1. Talking Shop on Workplace Freedom
Friday morning will offer policy breakouts briefing activists on a handful of specific issues. I’ll be attending the session on workplace freedom, also known as employee freedom or right-to-work.
The poorest of the poor lose out on real opportunity due to the sly arrangements and coercive activities of labor unions. Inflated wages and other barriers to entry keep teens and unskilled workers from joining the workforce.
Back when Republicans controlled the state legislature in Minnesota, an effort to make ours a right-to-work state ran into bipartisan resistance. Democrats feared the loss of union contributions coerced from workers who may or may not support their agenda (it’s much harder to convince people to donate to your campaign than to force them to as a condition of employment). Republicans feared the proposal would trigger an influx of out-of-state spending which could lose them control of the legislature, then passed a ballot initiative banning gay marriage which triggered an influx of out-of-state spending which lost them control of the legislature.
The most effective argument offered against right-to-work was that “free riders” would abuse the unions by benefiting from their representation without joining the union and paying dues. Unfortunately, too few advocates of right-to-work countered that argument with the fact that unions only have to represent “free riders” under contracts which specify the union as the sole arbiter of labor agreements. In other words, the unions choose to represent “free riders” and can just as easily choose not to. They just have to adjust their contracts to allow for competition, one of the inconveniences of a free market.