Go, Michigan, go!

by oracleofreason

Michigan just became the latest state to enact right-to-work legislation. The state’s governor just signed the bill passed over the howls of unions by the Wolverine State’s legislature. What the law essentially does is prohibits closed shop employment where union membership is a mandatory condition of employment for certain employees of Michigan state government. While the version that was just enacted only applies to certain Michigan public sector employees (save police officers and fire fighters) a bill that would affect the private sector has been introduced, respectfully, and I certainly hope passes.

The ideal scenario for me is to have no law supporting either side of this debate. However, unions are able to make these kinds of conditions as part of their contracts with employers usually with the blessing of state labor officials and union-friendly politicians. That includes the intimidation, thuggery, and vandalism that occurs during strikes or when employers propose cutting employee pay or benefits or will not go along with union demands.

Unions are not about preventing greedy employers from taking advantage of employees. What unions are are a form of organized gang that seeks to redistribute jobs from non-union employees to union ones in order to cartelize labor markets. Essentially, unions restrict the output of companies that have union shops by charging higher prices for their labor and force companies to hire union workers. They do this not only by collective bargaining but also by pushing for the passage of minimum wage laws and immigration controls to price out people who are not union members and would be willing to work for less. It is no coincidence that unemployment is lower in states with right-to-work laws than states without.

Presently, if workers vote to unionize, employers are forced to negotiate with the union as per the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). One of the first things unions do is require closed shops as a condition of employment during contract negotiations that effectively prohibit employers from hiring non-union workers. Since the NLRA will never be repealed, right-to-work laws are the only alternative employers have to seek relief from union strong arm tactics.

Hopefully with the passage of this statute, hopefully it will make the passage of the bill prohibiting closed shops as part of private sector employment easier. I also hope this is one more nail in the coffin of the organized labor movement. If union membership is so beneficial for workers then unions would not and should not resort to forcing people to join them and mandating closed shops as condition of employment. The fact that force is used not only by unions to get employees to join them but also to ensure employment as a quasi-entitlement at an employer’s expense goes to show that unions are not only outdated but no longer deserve the long existence they have had.

If someone has a skill that is in high demand, they will always get a good job at a good wage. Employers, in turn, will not only pay to hire and retain people who work hard but should have the option to set the price for the job they are hiring for. Employees and employers should be free to negotiate the terms and condition of employment (i.e. employment-at-will) including pay and benefits. In a free labor market, both parties are free to enter into labor agreements. Unions establish an unnecessary middle man that right-to-work laws seek to address.