Is a Bayou State Breakthrough Imminent?

Gov. Jeff Landry
Gov. Jeff Landry may soon have the opportunity to sign the first comprehensive statewide ban on union monopoly bargaining in state and local government to be adopted in more than three decades. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

State Lawmakers Weigh Ban on Monopolistic Government Unionism

Louisiana’s popular Right to Work law, which is now nearly half-a-century old, does a great deal to curtail union-boss abuses in the Bayou State.

However, the effectiveness of this law has long been diminished by the fact that Louisiana public servants of all kinds may be made subject to union monopoly bargaining on matters concerning their pay, benefits, and work rules in order to work for the taxpayer.

As the late Thomas E. Harris, then a top AFL-CIO lawyer, acknowledged back in 1962, the very fact that a union is legally empowered to “negotiate the contract which regulates the incidents of [a worker’s] industrial life puts him under powerful compulsion to join the union.” (Emphasis added.)

Fortunately, this year, Louisiana lawmakers may well heed the wishes of their overwhelmingly pro-Right to Work constituents and approve legislation that bars Big Labor from seizing monopoly control of public servants who work at schools and colleges and other government agencies and courts.

‘It Is a Fundamental Right to Choose Your Own Representation’

Three measures that are pending in the state Senate — S.B.263, S.B.264 and S.B.299 — would protect all state and local public workers from union domination and for that reason are less vulnerable to potential Big Labor court challenges as well as preferable on policy grounds.

But the enactment of two other measures now awaiting action in the state House of Representatives — H.B.572 and H.B.712 — would still be a significant step in the right direction, even though these measures allow some government union bosses to retain their monopoly bargaining privileges.

In a March 14 letter sent to every elected lawmaker in Baton Rouge regarding all five monopoly-bargaining repeal measures, National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix explained, on behalf of the Committee’s nearly 43,000 members in the state, why they are all worthy of support:

“No individual should be forced to accept Big Labor monopoly bargaining in order to serve the people of Louisiana.

“It is a fundamental right to choose your own representation — even a convicted criminal retains this right. But government union bosses have taken this right away” from Bayou State workers. 

In addition to depriving independent-minded public servants of any chance to deal directly with their employer regarding key workplace concerns, and prodding them to join a union even if they would prefer not to, monopoly bargaining undermines representative government.

In the words of the unanimous 1969 U.S. District Court for North Carolina ruling in Atkins v. City of Charlotte:

“[T]o the extent that public employees gain power through recognition of [monopolistic] collective bargaining, other interest groups with a right to a voice in the running of government may be left out of vital political decisions.”

One important example of what the Atkins court was concerned about is how school officials should make difficult personnel decisions when, due to a recession, declining enrollment, or some other reason, layoffs must occur.

In such situations, parents and taxpayers in general overwhelmingly agree that the jobs of outstanding teachers and teachers who specialize in especially demanding subject areas like physics, chemistry, and advanced math should be protected, even if such teachers have relatively little seniority.

In sharp contrast, teacher union bosses almost always insist that, when layoffs occur, they must be made exclusively on the basis of seniority, regardless of how effective the laid-off low-seniority teachers are, or how hard they will be to replace. And when the monopoly-bargaining regime is entrenched in K-12 schools, it is virtually inevitable that the wishes of the teacher union hierarchy will prevail over the public interest.

Virginia’s Doug Wilder Signed Loophole-Free Monopoly Bargaining Ban in 1993

“Despite the manifest evidence of monopoly bargaining’s harmfulness, rolling it back has so far been a tough slog,” noted Mr. Mix. “In fact, Virginia Democrat Doug Wilder was the last governor to sign an across-the-board ban on union monopoly rule over public employees, and that was in 1993.

“But within the next few weeks, if Louisiana lawmakers listen to their freedom-loving constituents instead of teacher and other government union lobbyists, Louisiana Republican Gov. Jeff Landry could have the opportunity to sign a new loophole-free monopoly-bargaining ban.

“This spring, the Committee and our Louisiana members will do everything we reasonably can to ensure Mr. Landry gets that opportunity and takes advantage of it when he does.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

To support our cause and help end forced unionism, go here to donate.