Yesterday, Indiana passed a so-called “right to work” law. These laws bar mandatory union membership or payment of union dues as a condition of employment. The laws are generally supported by free-market advocates and opposed by labor unions. Free marketers generally claim that these laws prevent forced unionization, however I think that’s not necessarily the right way to look at it. “Right to work” laws are a violation of both the right to freely associate and to contract.
While I oppose “right to work” laws, I oppose public sector unions entirely. I believe that if you choose to work in the public sector, you are choosing to serve your community. In addition public sector unions can wield extraordinary influence over politicians to force to fund more benefits and higher pay which result in more debt and taxes. As a result their power can grow unchecked. Whereas private sector unions, I believe, provide a valuable service, even in a free market. They can serve as a check against overexploitive employers and improve working conditions. I do not have a problem with workers organizing as ling it is voluntary and through a secret ballot. At the same time I do not object to employers who refuse to sanction unions at their businesses.
If an employer and a union want to agree to run a “closed shop” meaning that all employees must be in the union, fine. If an employee does not want to join the union is free to seek employment at a non-union business. The marketplace will punish the added costs of running a closed, union shop as opposed to a non-union shop. The best example of this are UAW produced and bailed out domestic car manufacturers vs the non-union imports. If we let markets do their work instead of using state coercion, we will be more free and more prosperous as a society.