Monday, October 31, 2005

Right to Work

There was a discussion about right to work states on the NoR a few weeks back, and it was something I wanted to continue on my blog.

At the most basic level, a "right to work" state has labor legislation or regulation, that prevents most unions from forcing workers to join the union to work in their job. i.e. the Carpebters union can't stop you from working on a construction site just because you aren't a union member.

Most of the states back east are "closed shop" states, where unions control who works when and where in the unionized trades... and jsut about everything blue collar or public sector is unionized.

Unions do serve an important function.. or at least they did. The job of the union is to increase the bargaining power of the workers to parity with the employers. This allows the workers to negotiate on an equal footing.

The problem is, that in closed shop states, the unions are given a MORE THAN EQUAL footing in labor negotiations. Since the employer cannot get labor that is not controlled by the union, if the union chooses to reject his offer, he goes out of business; or at the very least loses a lot of money.

Basically, a union in a closed shop state can LEGALLY use EXTORTION against an employer.. no winder the mob loves unions so much.

Now unions also do a lot of good.. or at least they did. They helped improve working conditions, they ended the company town systems, and they improved wages for blue collar workers in relation to other workers. Unfortunately, mandatory monopolistic unions are an anti-competitive, regressive, market burden.

If we don't tolerate monopolies on resources or production, why should we tolerate them on labor?

So given the above, I absolutely support the right to work without union or guild or professional organization interference.

What I DON’T like is where, as in Arizona, employers can screw you every which way from sunday with very little recourse.

See, here’s my problem.

Twice I was terminated for political reasons, against company policy.
Twice they specified a deliberately vague reason for termination. In
neither case was my performance at issue. In both cases I had violated
no policy of the company, and in one case I had specifically cleared my
actions with the company before hand.

One of these was really blatantly religiously motivated.

I believe that a small business owner should be able to hire and fire
whoever they want, for whatever reason. That’s his (or her) business,
and so is who he employs. To my mind, there is no difference between a
sole proprietorship or limited partnership and private property. If the
owner doesnt want you in his house, you dont get to be there.

A large corporation however isn’t one persons company, it is a body
governed by policy. When one has not violated policy, when ones
performance has been exemplary, ones bosses boss shouldnt be able to
fire you because he disagrees with your politics or religion (or lack

Should there be legal recourse here… I don’t know. Lord knows I wish
there was a hell of a lot less interference in private business, but
agian, the corporation is a whole ‘nother entity.

If a corporation is to recieve so many special protections from
government (and they do, in echange for a large amount of interference
and regulation) then there are certain standards of behavior one should
expect in return for those protections. One of them is that politics,
gender, religion, sexuality, and any other “identity politics” should
not be a factor in ones employment; unless they materially effect the
performance of the job.

Oh and yes, I think the “right” answer to the question I proposed above
isnt “if the corps get special treatement they should be held to a
special standard”

The RIGHT answer is that corporations should recieve no special

The corporate veil, limitation of liability (especially where joint and
several would apply), and corporate bankruptcy are all powerful
disincentives to responsible governance.

The problem is, how do we get direct investment without them? The entire
purpose behind those principles (and many others) is to limit the risk
of investors, to allow for greater investment. Without those
protections investment in individual corporations would be FAR lower.

Of course there is still all that money out there, so perhaps a side
effect would be the creation of many smaller corporations. Theres no holy writ that everything has to be done by huge megacorps after all.