My colleague David Boaz surveys the views of libertarians who criticize right to work laws as a (further) incursion on free contract (Sheldon Richman, Gary Chartier) and those who by contrast emphasize its possible advantages as a second-best solution amid a national labor law regime decidedly unfriendly toward liberty of contract (David Henderson, Shikha Dalmia). To which might be added the views of Steve Chapman, who finds the issue’s importance overrated, Robert VerBruggen vs. J.D. Tuccille; Iain Murray (second best); and critic Milton Friedman.
Meanwhile, Stephen Bainbridge recommends a history of the right to work movement by George Leef, Daniel Fisher notes that unions have been quite successful in some states like Nevada that do have right to work (on which more). And Mickey Kaus notes, regarding the wider debate: “Instrumental political arguments have become the major defense of Wagner Act unionism.”
It’s a wonder the citizens of Michigan aren’t more grateful to the United Auto Workers union for its many accomplishments [USA Today, Fox News]:
Chrysler took quick action two years ago after television news reports of workers at its Jefferson North plant in Detroit who were apparently drinking beer or smoking marijuana on lunch breaks against factory policies…. now they’re back on the job, having won an arbitration decision that reinstated them to their union jobs.
As lawmakers in Lansing prepare for a vote, unions are training supporters in what is euphemistically called “civil disobedience,” and state troopers are arriving in numbers to counter expected efforts to physically prevent the legislature from accomplishing its intended business. After neighboring Indiana adopted a similar law it saw a surge of incoming business relocation interest. [Detroit News, Free Press, MLive, Jillian Kay Melchior, NR; earlier]
Some of the company’s $2 billion in unfunded liabilities could get dumped on the federally sponsored Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), raising premiums for the many solvent companies that are obliged to participate. Worse yet, a lot of Hostess’s liability is to union “multiemployer” plans, which under a peculiarly onerous federal law follow a “last-man-standing” rule of liability under which companies still operating are made to pick up the obligations of those no longer in business. David Kaplan at Fortune quotes a Credit Suisse report to the effect that multiemployer plans “are now underfunded by $369 billion.” [Ivan Osorio, CEI]
And for wider background on the company’s decline: Scott Shackford, Reason, on who killed Hostess. Plus: “It’s a poorly evolved parasite that kills its Hostess.” [@mr_archenemy]
Richard Epstein on an overreaching ballot measure that would insert labor union prerogatives into the Michigan constitution (earlier here, here). The measure is flagging in polls, despite a robo-call in favor by Bill Clinton, and has drawn opposition even from the stoutly liberal Detroit Free Press [Shikha Dalmia]
P.S. The WSJ is reminding us again about the not-wholly-unrelated battle for the Michigan Supreme Court (earlier).
Confidentiality rules vs. union ambitions: “A new rule that the Obama administration is trying to enact in Washington would require employers to report all contracts with lawyers or consulting firms involved in labor relations — including how much they’re being paid — regardless of what kind of work they’re doing for a particular client.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
With prospects for the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) having fallen to zero in Congress, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been busy instead issuing rulings expanding the legal prerogatives of labor unions. One that has the business community up in arms concerns “micro-unions,” in which a union designates a bargaining unit smaller than would be considered natural under Board precedent, but within which it thinks it can muster a voting majority. We covered the issue last year, and a ruling this May confirms that the NLRB is headed down this controversial path. I summarize at Cato at Liberty.
The California legislature this term chose to pass a raft of exceptionally bad legislation burdening business and employers, and Gov. Jerry Brown, perhaps mindful of the state’s ongoing poor economic performance, last week vetoed many of them [Ira Stoll, NY Sun; Steven Greenhut, City Journal] Among the vetoes: bills widening the rights of housekeepers’, babysitters’ and other domestic workers to sue their employers [earlier here, here]; greatly widening the survivors’ benefits paid for public safety workers [earlier, update]; unionizing grad student research assistants [Daily Californian] and an ostensible farmworker safety measure [Ruth Evans, Fresno Bee]
P.S. “Starts” isn’t really accurate, since, as David Boaz has pointed out, Gov. Brown cast some good vetoes last year.
Various bloggers have prepared questions for Romney and Obama on topics that include the so-called gender pay gap, the mislabeled Employee Free Choice Act, and Rep. Paul Ryan’s view of unions. [ABA Journal]
…take note of what labor unions are doing on the Michigan ballot [Emilio Rocca/CEI, earlier] More: Shikha Dalmia, WSJ.