Sunday, April 20, 2014

In Response to a Question About Right to Work Legislation

Written on March 25th, 2011

Patrick Mende asked:

   “You support so-called 'right to work' legislation. How would you respond to the argument that such legislation interferes with an employer's and a union's right to freely enter into contract?”

I replied:

   “I do not believe that unions and employers should have the right to collude to require employees to join a union once an employee has already contracted to work for an employer. But I believe that if unions and employers desire to collude to require employees to join unions as a precondition to and prerequisite for employment, they should be required to provide information that applicants will be required to do so while they still have the opportunity to make the decision about whether to agree to enter into contract with their potential employer.

   “If Right-to-Work legislation interferes with the right of employers and unions to freely enter into contract with one another, it only does so in the interest of full disclosure regarding what is to be expected of the employee. I am more concerned about preserving the individual employee's right to freely enter into contract with either or both unions and employers than I am with preserving union or business rights.

   "I don’t believe that - especially in difficult economic times - an employee whom was not told he would be compelled to join a union within a given amount of time as a condition of employment should be caught off-guard and forced to choose between participating in a strike and continuing to work so he may provide for himself and his family.

   “Additionally, I dismiss the claim that Right-to-Work legislation creates a free-rider problem for employees, causing them to receive the benefits earned through union negotiation without committing to help the union strike if necessary. This is because I would argue that there is a downside to the increased benefits and improved work conditions for which unions negotiate. Increased benefits can also mean higher standards for the hiring of future employees; these benefits may make it more difficult for future employees to qualify for those increased benefits, potentially contributing to unemployment.”

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