Sherman's Folly

Rep. Brad Sherman wants to outlaw Right to Work laws and the Investor’s Business Daily takes note:

Job Killer: A California congressman wants to eliminate right-to-work laws in 22 states where workers don’t have to join unions. If even-higher unemployment is his goal, he has the right idea.

Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat who represents a large part of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, has introduced a bill that would repeal right-to-work statutes. These laws let workers employed at organized companies choose for themselves if they’re going to join the union or pay union dues. In the 28 states without right-to-work laws, workers are forced to join the union if their employer has been organized.

The depths to which lawmakers beholden to unions are willing to descend are almost bottomless, and labor is the second biggest contributor to Congressman Sherman’s campaign in the current cycle. He wants to keep that 100% AFL-CIO rating and seems to have no compunction about wrecking jobs elsewhere (California is not a right-to-work state) to keep his union support.

Sherman justifies the bill, H.R. 6384, on the free-rider argument. Right-to-work laws, he says, require unions to represent nondues-paying workers, and he wants those “exempt from paying” what he believes is “their fair share” to be forced into unions.

The argument may sound reasonable, but Sherman’s legislation will hurt the working class he supposedly is trying to protect.

Look at the data cited by Greg Schneider, a senior fellow with the Kansas Policy Institute and an associate professor of history at Emporia State University, in the Daily Caller. From 1999 to 2009, right-to-work states added 1.5 million private-sector jobs, a 3.7% increase. Over the same period, states that don’t have right-to-work laws lost 1.8 million jobs, a 2.3% decline.

Growth was even stronger in the right-to-work states from 1995 to 2005. Over that stretch, private-sector jobs grew by 20.2%.

Maybe Sherman reckons that if California can’t keep up with fast-growing right-to-work states such as Texas, he can punish those states and maybe bring some of the lost jobs back to California.

All he’ll do is make it harder to create — and save — jobs in those states. Yes, all the states would be operating at the same regulatory level under his bill. But it would be the lower level of the union states, not the higher road of right-to-work states.

Sherman must know the effect his legislation would have on employment. But a burning urge to use a lofty position in government to decide what someone else’s “fair share” is, and to retain that position with the help of union dollars, clouds the mind. Congress could use fewer members who think that way.