The principles involved in right to work laws are identical with those involved in the FEPC. Both interfere with the freedom of employment contract, in one case by specifying a particular color or religion cannot be made a condition of employment; in the other, that membership in a union cannot be…Given competition among employers and employees, there seems no reason why employers should not be free to offer any terms they want to their employees. ~Milton Friedman
Most “conservatives” fail to realize that Right to Work Laws are philosophically anathema to the kinds of principles they spend most of their time espousing. I don’t know if any of those who are vilifying Gov. Daniels right now have read Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom or not, but if they did, they should know better than to attack such a principled conservative decision as Daniels’ was this past week. Here’s solid commentary in the Examiner:
Bosses don’t force employees to do anything: they place conditions on those who want the boss’s money. If you want to work for me and get paid by me, you will do A, B, and C. Some of these demands are more reasonable or more compassionate than others, but barring extreme circumstances, the conservative position is that people should be able to place whatever conditions they like on those who want their property.
Right to Work laws bar employers from imposing a different sort of condition: the requirement that all employees join a union. Thus they take away property rights and infringe on the right of contract.
There are plenty of stupid labor laws that restrict employer freedom, but none of these laws force employers to have a closed shop. Preventing employers from agreeing to a closed shop is no free-market solution.
It’s true. There are plenty of reasons for conservatives to loathe the power of labor unions today, but most of those reasons coincide with the basic principle that the government should not interfere with the free association of workers and their interactions with their employers. Often legislation favors the labor side of the labor/capital divide, but it can swing the other way as well.
As for Daniels, he successfully killed a Republican push to pass Right to Work legislation. He understands that his state needs to move forward and that there are real issues to be addressing and actual free-market principles to be defended. Kudos to you, sir. Milton Friedman would approve.