Apologists for monopolistic unionism continue today to make the same “freedom of contract” excuse for their stance that economic journalist Henry Hazlitt ripped to shreds five decades ago.
At the time, Big Labor was pushing furiously for enactment of legislation repealing Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act.
Since this is the only federal statutory provision that explicitly authorizes states to enact Right to Work laws prohibiting forced union dues and fees, wiping out Section 14(b) would have effectively ensured that private-sector employees in all 50 states could be corralled into unwanted unions.
Big Labor Cheerleaders Have ‘Insincerely’ Used ‘an Argument’ They Don’t Believe
In a column published 50 years ago this summer, Mr. Hazlitt blasted Big Labor cheerleaders for “insincerely using an argument” they didn’t really believe.
As Mr. Hazlitt noted, union officials and their ideological fellow travelers enthusiastically back the longstanding federal “prohibition of the so-called ‘yellow-dog’ contract — a contract under which a worker agrees as a condition of employment that he will not join a union.”
The ban on “yellow-dog” contracts was and is supported by the vast majority of Americans, including Right to Work champions. That makes sense.
Pro-Right to Work citizens emphatically believe that the individual employee should be free to choose which private organizations, if any, he or she joins and financially supports, regardless of what the business owner or other employees think.
Whom Does Dean Baker Think He’s Fooling?
However, as Mr. Hazlitt went on to point out, compulsory-unionism proponents who agree that “yellow-dog” contracts should remain illegal believe no such thing. On the one hand, they want to stop employers and workers who DON’T want a union from making an agreement that bars the hiring of dues-paying union members.
On the other hand, they think the law should authorize and promote the corralling into unions of employees who personally want nothing to do with a union.
This inconsistent stance can’t reasonably be described as pro-“freedom of contract.” What union officials and their cohorts “insist on,” Mr. Hazlitt explained, is “a completely one-sided law, which prohibits compulsory non-unionism while imposing compulsory unionism . . . .”
Big Labor had no answer for Henry Hazlitt in 1965, and still has no answer today. Nevertheless, pro-compulsory unionism pundits continue to make the same unprincipled argument against Right to Work laws.
Their apparent hope is that readers won’t notice the cynical double standard they have adopted.
The lastest example is Dean Baker, co-founder of the union-label Center for Economic and Research Policy (CEPR).
In a long review article published early last month in the Huffington Post, Dr. Baker took on Government Against Itself, a recent book by political scientist Daniel DiSalvo critiquing the special privileges of government unions.
There is much about Prof. DiSalvo’s book that upsets Dr. Baker, but what upsets him most of all is its advocacy of Right to Work protections for public servants.
Dr. Baker claims that, in defending union bosses’ privilege to cut deals with government employers to make financial support for their organization a job condition, he is only standing up for the “freedom of contract,” but, as Mr. Hazlitt demonstrated long ago, this is far from true.
In Our Day, Defenders Of the ‘Yellow Dog’ Shop Are Few and Far Between
“Yellow-dog” arrangements between employers and employees have been banned in the private sector by statute for more than 80 years.
And for several decades now they have also been banned in the public sector under the laws of all 50 states.
“There is not a single organization of any significance lobbying to bring back the ‘yellow-dog’ shop. And Dean Baker and his fellow Big Labor acolytes certainly aren’t in favor of bringing it back,” observed Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.
“As long as that’s the case, to quote Henry Hazlitt, Dean Baker et al ‘must in all consistency agree to outlaw compulsory unionism everywhere as well as compulsory non-unionism.’”