Michigan Governor Richard Snyder (R) on his state’s new “Right to Work” legislation:
“There were a number of people out protesting, so I don’t see the need to have a public signing ceremony to overemphasize that,” Mr. Snyder said, insisting that the moves were not “anti-union.” “Because this isn’t about us versus them. This is about us being Michiganders and trying to work together.”
As one of the commenters on the story said, union dues are like vaccinations. They are vaccinations against unfair wages, lack of benefits, pernicious work hours, and mistreatment by management. Now, whatever an individual may think of the union that represents him and his fellows, that individual only has those protections because the union does indeed represent him, whether he pays his dues or not. Furthermore, he takes more money home than he would were he not represented by a union. Why should he not be forced to pay his share for that representation?
“Right to Work” initiatives are primarily defended by their supporters by the argument that it is good for the economy. That can’t be right. It cannot be good for the economy that workers have less money to take home, and therefore have less money to pay for goods and services. (Thus, the recession that we are slowly climbing out of, which was caused by a drop in demand). It can only be good for the economy if by “good for the economy” one means “sustainable for as long as it takes the moneyed interests to increase their holdings”.
The only other argument for such initiatives seems to be one of principle, that it is, in principle, wrong for workers to be forced to pay union dues, because it is a violation of choice or something or other. I see no defense of such an argument. Why should any worker receive the benefits of union-negotiated contracts and not have to chip in to support such negotiations? That is to say, why should we, as a matter of principle, provide the means for free-riding?
Snyder’s claim that such initiatives are about “trying to work together” is, of course, ridiculous. The only relevant parties that he can be encouraging to work together are management and unions, and this initiative will significantly impact the ability of the unions to help the workers it represents.