There Is ‘No Constitutional Right to Work as a Non-Unionist’??
(download the September 2016 NRTWC Newsletter)
Polls have long shown that Americans overwhelmingly believe the personal right not to join a union is just as worthy of protection under the law as the right to join a union.
But for decades, top union bosses and their apologists have rejected this principled position.
And from time to time union spokesmen and their allies have been quite frank about their rejection of “equal justice to all,” a concept first explicated, as far as we know, by the Ancient Greek statesman Pericles in the 5th Century B.C.
Constitutional Shields For Unionists and Non-Unionists Are ‘in No Way Equivalent’??
Back in 1948, for example, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) union plaintiffs in the Lincoln case, who were trying to get state laws prohibiting compulsory union membership and dues declared unconstitutional, told the U.S. Supreme Court: “[T]he right to work as a non-unionist is in no way equivalent to or parallel of the right to work as a union member . . . .
“[T]here exists no constitutional right to work as a non-unionist on the one hand while the right to maintain employment free from discrimination because of union membership is constitutionally protected.”
In Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. North Carolina (1949), Justice Hugo Black, speaking for a unanimous High Court, unceremoniously dismissed this argument.
But in recent decades an array of compulsory-unionism proponents have continued confidently to claim, in effect, that workers who favor unions should be first-class citizens, while workers who oppose unions should be second-class citizens.
Big Labor Sometimes Pays Lip Service to the Right Not to Join — But That’s All
In a 2002 book, for example, pro-union monopoly labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein charged that Right to Work laws represent “an ideological onslaught [against unions] of the first order . . . .”
How so? Under such laws, he complained, the rights of workers who oppose unionization are “given the same moral weight as those of workers loyal to the union idea”!
Even when union officials seem to contradict the AFL’s Lincoln brief and Prof. Lichtenstein and pay lip service to the right not to join a union, in practice only a handful at most believe the law should equally protect the right to join and the right not to join a union.
The legal right not to join a union, union propaganda contends over and over again, is sufficiently protected if a worker who doesn’t want a union can refrain from becoming a formal union member, but can’t refuse, while keeping his job, to pay union dues or fees.
And these forced dues or fees may be equivalent to or nearly equivalent to what a voluntary union member pays.
No union official would say that a law allowing a worker to become a union member over the objections of his employer and fellow employees, but not allowing him to pay dues to the union he’s joined, provides adequate protection for the right to join.
Yet Big Labor insists workers who prefer to remain union-free should be satisfied with only nominal legal protection for their choice.
‘Those Who Deny Freedom To Others, Deserve It Not For Themselves’
National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King observed:
“Nearly 160 years ago, responding to a letter inviting him to a Boston event commemorating the birth of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln wrote eloquently about the people of his time who treasured freedom for themselves while denying it to others.
“Of course, Lincoln’s words were offered in immediate reference to supporters of chattel slavery, not compulsory unionism.
“No one contends that compulsory unionism is an evil as grave as slavery. Nonetheless, Lincoln’s famous April 1859 letter to Henry Pierce seems relevant to the debate in our time over government-sponsored monopolistic unionism:
“‘Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and under a just God, can not long retain it.’”