Monday, January 23, 2012

One Tiny Bit More On Right To Work

The screaming, emoting and feel-good/feel-bad BS is really quite incredible. I made up my mind at lunch today to go find some dispassionate info on the subject to link to -- good, solid stuff, with actual legal and case-study cites, pointing out how such laws really work in the real world when real people in varying situations tangle with 'em -- and it turns out Wikipedia is the best I can do.

Everyone else is full of it, no more capable of giving a straight answer than they are of flying by leaping from a high place and flapping their hands frantically, which I do wish they'd all try.

It's either Yeats' Rough Beast or "Jerusalem wrought in our fair and pleasant land," accordin' to the pols and the howling mobs (or vice-versa, depending on the outcome). Which means probably neither, just a lot of nasty ox-goring and grungy little side-deals.

(Update: The most vexing heat-vs.-light factiod: claims that unions would be obliged to continue to represent "bargaining unit" members who had dropped union membership or never joined. If true -- and how are you still a member of a bargaining unit if you're out of the unit what made the bargain? -- if true, it's manifestly unfair, as lopsided as the closed shop it replaces. In or out; if you wanna stand in the middle, there's financial-core membership and that ought to be options enough. If employers are happier with you out of the union, they're going to have to accept you stopping by to ask for a raise, too.)

The brilliant physicist (and man with a ringside seat at world affairs) Enrico Fermi was, at least in later life, firmly convinced that all political change -- whatever it was! -- was inevitably for the worse, like entropy flowing downhill, no matter how noble (or otherwise) the intent. Man might've had a point.

(On the good -- good-ish, anyway -- side, I did stumble over a link to one of the odder mash-ups of artist, style and theme, The KLF/Tammy Wynette mix of Justified & Ancient (Stand By The JAMS), via "Protestant Work Ethic" to "The Idler magazine" to a former member of The KLF being amongst their writers. And they say nobody was never learned nothing nohow by wandering? Yeah, me neither.)


CGHill said...

I can tell you that we had a nasty fight over it here in Soonerland: the initiative passed in '01, and it spent two years hung up in the courts before it finally took effect. RTW didn't quite do all the miraculous things its proponents said, but the horrible predictions by the opponents didn't come to pass either.

A local rightish think tank has run the numbers, if you're curious.

Divemedic said...

While I agree with right to work, how do you reconcile the oft held belief of property rights and contract with it?

If a property owner is running a business, and contracts with a labor union, with that contract including a provision that union membership is a condition of employment, is government interfering with a private contract?

Anonymous said...

I know I'm a darn foreigner and all, but why do you think I come here anyway? For the reasoned opinion, intellectual observation and the blatant expressions of common sense, it just doesn't seem to happen many other places. (Oh alright, and the Snark, occasional gun porn [look I'm easily excited - I haven't held one in months] and the gratuitous wookieness too).

As for strange musical combinations try Pat Anderson-Dancing In The Dark (a sort of country version of Springsteen?) or how about the whole Sara Isaksson &_Rebecka Törnqvist album Fire In The Hole, two allegedly middle aged Swedish lady folk/jazz singers covering Steely Dan songs (and not even the vaguely famous ones either).

Enjoy! Hey if I have to read all the intellectual stuff you keep discovering, I have to at least try and get some back.

Roberta X said...

Divemedic: And when every person who made the original deal is retired or dead, should their successors be bound by a contract provision they had no part in deciding?

This problem is about half Lysander Spooner and half the "artifical person" notion in one of its more troubling forms.

Able: Noooooom a "darn foreigner" visits far-off, distant places and is annoyed they're not more like where he lives -- us ordinary foreigners simply look upon such works as the Isaksson & Törnqvist recording and marvel.... ;)

GGH: I'll be a-lookin'. There's one assertion -- that a union is still bound to stand up for non-union members of the "bargaining unit" -- that, if true, seems manifestly unfair, just as wrong as the closed shop it would replace.

Divemedic said...

@Roberta: Another good question. The thing is, union contracts typically last for a set period- say ten years, and are not written in perpetuity.

As a person in a right to work state, I have worked in a union shop as both a union and a non-union member.

The 'artificial person' notion doesn't make sense to me, in light of the natural rights theory that we are endowed with rights by our creator. It seems to me that a corporation is being endowed rights by the men that created it.

Will Brown said...

As it doesn't seem to be online, I'd be happy to mail you a copy of my local contract book with the relevant sections highlighted. Let me know.

As to the contract thing, the terms of the contract are negotiated between the company and the union and not between any individual employee/member thereof, and the contract specifically stipulates who and under what circumstances can/must be involved in such transactions. Everybody who is (or becomes) subject to the contract terms are some aspect of the bargaining unit that's all.

As example, you don't work as the personal servant of the HR drone that actually accepted all your employment agreements, how is this bargaining unit concept any different in principle?

Don said...

In Florida, all it meant was that the union shops only did goobermint work, while everyone else worked regularly.

Although, technically, there were no "closed shops", in effect that's what happened. The union companies were union, the others weren't. The union shops didn't disappear.

But it was the company's decision to be a union shop. Maybe Indiana's law would be different.

Crucis said...

I see in the Investor's Business Daily that the unions are considering disrupting the Super Bowl to publicize their Right-to-work opposition.

Yeah, that'll work.

Anonymous said...

I can say that I was a non union employee and my wages and comp were set by the union and company during it's contract meetings.

It seemed about half the workers at plants unionized, while the R&D folks and the others voted against.

So what ever the union plants got we received as well, without ever going on strike or paying dues.

Bad blood between groups? :>

Anonymous said...

I've lived in many RTW and non RTW states. The mechanics of a non-union employee working in a organized company are essentially moot. In actuality, there are union and open shops, even in RTW states. The primary effect of RTW seems to be that companies put "Right to Work" medium high on their list of variables when analyzing where to locate or expand.
From a union standpoint, RTW retards organizing vigor since their potential income stream is less predictable.

NYEMT said...

It's been my experience (over twenty years in a closed-shop state agency with employees represented by no fewer than SEVEN unions) that collective bargaining included, the unions spend ninety percent of their time protecting the jobs of the worst ten percent of the employees. In twenty-two years belonging to two different unions (one for electricians, and later on, one for shop supervisors), I've never gotten so much as a T-shirt from a union, while I've watched them vigorously defend the lowlifes from termination for everything from absenteeism to theft to homicide.

Anonymous said...

Something I find bewildering is that there is "law" about all of this. The way I see it, unions are a voluntary organization: Bob, Joe, Tom and the rest of the boys have a gripe with the boss, and decide together that they ain't gonna work anymore unless the boss does what they want. Other than basic contract law, I see no reason that the government ought to be involved in this any more than it ought to be involved in the local Rotary Club.

Where and how the gubbmint got involved in this is a tale of corruption and woe. Basically, the workers and the bosses have fought and struggled to get a third party (government) that has lots more clubs and guns than they do as well as shiny badges and nifty uniforms to make any headbashing and killing legal, proper and seemly. Politicians are happy with this scheme as they can take bribes... er... campaign contributions, I mean to say... from both sides.


I am not and never have been a fan of unions, as it seems to me that the terms of my work (i.e. selling my labor) are between me and my boss; I see no reason why a third party should tell me what those terms ought to be, ESPECIALLY when I've got to pay for the "service".