In the words of Bob King, President of the United Autoworkers Union (UAW), the UAW has no long-term future if they cannot expand their membership into Southern auto plants. And it looks like that day may come sooner than anyone expected: workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee recently voted by a margin of 53-47% against joining the UAW. The loss is even more stunning considering that VW welcomed and actively encouraged the UAW with open arms. Why were they so welcoming? Not only do labor interests make up half of the Germany based VW board, but VW was also keen to establish a German-style “works council” in their American plants. However, American labor law barred them from doing so – unless workers were unionized. Oh the irony; anti-union laws actually induced a company to invite unionization. Talk about unintended consequences!
But all is not lost. Perhaps if Bob King and the rest of the UAW were to adopt a more libertarian stance toward labor laws and thus began a push to have all such laws repealed, the UAW might actually have a fighting chance. Why do I say this? Consider the vote; 47% of the workers actually WANTED union representation, but, as with union voting and democracy the “majority rules” so the desires of the minority are simply squashed and ignored. But what if the 47% that wanted to join were simply allowed to join and the 53% that didn’t want to join did not? Would the sky fall? VW could deal with the 53% just the way they always have and then also deal with the newly unionized 47% however the union wished to proceed. If the union could accomplish those things it claimed for the workers then more workers would join of their own free will. And if the union failed to deliver, then workers would be free to leave as well. If VW wants to establish a “workers council” then let them. Why should some law stand in their way? But this law slashing cuts both ways. If the UAW approached say a Toyota plant but Toyota wanted nothing to do with the union then that is also their right. There should be no law forcing Toyota to negotiate with a union just as there should be no law forcing an employer to hire certain people. Freedom to choose with whom you associate is a fundamental natural right and it should not be abridged for wholly arbitrary and misguided notions of “fairness” implemented by sore losers that didn’t get their way.
Now some might say “oh that could never work, the non-unionized would “free-ride” off the non-exclusionary benefits of union backed negotiations.” Beyond better candy in the vending machine or more comfortable climate control settings I’m not really sure what these benefits could be, but even if that were the case, surely the value of the exclusionary benefits should vastly outweigh the trivial non-exclusionary fringe benefits of union proximity. One may derive some personal enjoyment benefit from viewing the country club’s grounds but such benefits pale in comparison to the amenities that the paying members may enjoy. If that is not the same situation with a union then that is one pathetic union.
In order for everyone to exercise their right of free association all laws relating to unions and labor must be repealed. Laws that compel union membership are as injurious to liberty as laws prohibiting it.