GUEST COMMENTARY: Right to work — a partial remedy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 12:25 p.m. CST; updated 3:39 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Federal labor law violates more than workers' rights. Much will be said in the media and via testimony, during committee hearings for one or more of the "right-to-work" bills that are currently pending before the Missouri General Assembly, about the "rights" of both the opponents and the proponents of "right-to-work."  All have legitimate claims.

The "government," in any of its forms, is an equal opportunity violator of "rights."  Usually it violates the rights of one group in favor of another group; most often, by law, to the advantage of the ruling party's favored constituents. This creation of law by government may be either contrary to the rights of individuals, to specific entities or to other governmental jurisdictions.


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In the case of federal labor law, the government violates the rights of all: of workers, employers and labor organizations as well as the rights of state governments.  Under natural and/or constitutional law, labor organizations have the right to bargain and contract only for their members; employers have the natural and constitutional right to bargain and contract with whomever they choose; workers have the natural and constitutional right to refrain from associating and supporting anyone or any group and/or to represent only themselves in bargaining with an employer or prospective employer; and under the principles of federalism, specifically the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the states have reserved the right to govern in the area of labor law. Each of these listed rights has been impinged by federal labor law.

Federal labor law violates the rights of labor organizations by forcing them to be the "exclusive bargaining agent" for all workers, both union members and non-union workers, upon the unionization of a work place. Federal labor law violates the rights of employers by forcing them to “bargain” only with the designated "exclusive bargaining agent"; the rights of workers are violated by the requirement that only the "exclusive bargaining agent" is permitted to bargain for them; and finally, federal labor law has usurped the right of state governments to govern in the area of labor law.

What is the remedy for the violations of these rights?  Section 14(b) of the federal Taft-Hartley Act provides a partial remedy but only for the compulsory unionism requirement via the adoption of a "right-to-work" statute by a state. 

The full and proper remedy for the impingement, by federal law, of the rights of unions, employers and workers as well as the right of the state to govern in the area of labor law is either the amendment of or the "nullification" of all federal labor law.

Bruce Hillis is a retired businessman and advocates for free markets and constitutional governance. He currently lives in Mexico, Mo.

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