Minnesota’s “Right to Work” Controversy

In response to a newly proposed constitutional “right to work” amendment, labor unions flooded the Capitol in St. Paul to voice their feelings on the matter. Not surprisingly, the general atmosphere is one of opposition, as Megan Bolt from the Pioneer Press reports,

“Union leaders argue a ban on closed shops is just an attempt to weaken unions, and will ultimately drive down wages, eliminate jobs, reduce benefits and deteriorate workplace safety as it has in other right-to-work states.”

“We’re just trying to keep our benefits,” [Jesse] Schultz said. “If they take out the middle class, they take out the backbone of America.”

They’re right about one thing: “right to work” will weaken unions, but don’t they ever wonder why that’s the case? Did it ever occur to them that people may not want to join a union?

More importantly, who is the “we” Schultz is talking about? It’s incredible to me how this union member uses loaded rhetoric like “middle class” when the interest of a union is to protect not the middle class, but the interests of those in the union. Those left outside of the union, the unemployed, are out of luck. How many people could be employed if employers didn’t have to pay highly-inflated wages and benefits to those who have no advantage other than getting there first/being employed the longest?

It may be true that banning closed shops will drive down wages and benefits. However, it might also drive them up, since having wages at the market equilibrium would allow for the hiring of more workers, which would increase productivity, which in turn raises earnings for the company. It might even be more cost effective based solely on the fact that an employee could be free from having their earnings garnished every month for little real benefit.

Another important factor is that employees may not want to support a political party as a condition of their employment. Trade unions are a major political special interest, and largely support leftist political parties, which in turn pass pro-union laws.

The opposition to “right to work” legislation boils down to an opposition to freedom in general. The people at the Capitol today simply demonstrated their reluctance to cede control of other workers’ lives. Right to Work legislation should be the law so every worker has an equal chance for employment on their terms.



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