A number of conservatives, such as  Senator Rand Paul, have been promoting “right-to-work” legislation in response to the growing power of labor unions. On the surface, such legislation might appear to be consistent with free market principles. But is it?

Wikipedia says that

Right-to-work laws are statutes enforced in twenty-two U.S. states, mostly in the southern or western U.S., allowed under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers that make membership, payment of union dues, or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring, which would require the workplace to be a closed shop.

Where pro-union legislation, such as the National Labor Relations Act, force employers to negotiate with labor union leaders, right-to-work legislation prohibits employers from making union membership a condition of employment. In both instances, employers are prohibited from acting on their own judgment.

There is no such thing as a right to work. There is only the right of an employer to offer a job and the right of an employee to accept that offer. Morally, each should be free to act on his own judgment. The employer should be free to stipulate whatever conditions of employment he desires, and the employee should also be free to accept those he finds acceptable and reject those he does not.

If an employer believes that dealing with a labor union is beneficial to his business, he should be free to make union membership a condition of employment. Similarly, if he does not want to deal with labor union leaders, he should be free to refuse to do so. No matter his decision, if he is unable to find the workers that his business needs, he will either change his decision or go out of business.

The solution to the political power of labor unions is not further restrictions on the freedom of business owners. The solution is to get government completely out of the employer/employee relationship. The solution is to repeal all laws that force employers to act contrary to their own judgment.

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Brian Phillips has been actively defending individual rights for the past twenty-five years. He has successfully helped defeat attempts to implement zoning in Houston, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico. His writing has appeared in The Freeman, Reason, The Orange County Register, The Houston Chronicle, The Objective Standard, Capitalism Magazine, and dozens of other publications. He is the author of Individual Rights and Government Wrongs

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