“The Most Harmful Error Most Honest People Make” … “is the belief that a group or a government can do things that would be harmful and wicked if done by an individual and produce results that are not harmful, unjust and wicked. And “What a businessman or laborer could not gain through merit should never be granted through force or fraud.”In The Authoritarianism of American Labor Law by George C. Leef, he writes of the legal establishment of collective bargaining in The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the key piece of legislation controlling unionization.
“…union privileges”… inflict…”harm on the nonunion worker. In a 1937 editorial entitled “Whom Will a Worker Obey?” Hoiles expounded on the “harm” collective bargaining inflicted on working people:
Collective bargaining advocates delude the poor, honest working man, who has not had time to study the matter through, with the idea that giving them the right to regulate his life — tell him at what he must work, for what price and how long — they will greatly add to his comfort of life. [Emphasis added.]
The phrase “who has not had time to study” is key. In a July 1938 editorial, Hoiles explained that the purpose of his columns was to make people think. Elsewhere, in a 1940 editorial, he stated, “Collective bargaining makes its members collectivists and tyrants instead of Americans and true Christians.”
It was passed in 1935 as a favor to organized labor for its electoral support of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. The new law wiped out all state laws covering unionization in the private sector and instituted a federal system based on the notion that collective bargaining was a good thing for the nation and should therefore be facilitated by government power.
Crucially, unionization was made to be a matter of collective decision rather than individual choice. Under the NLRA, if enough workers express a desire for an election to decide whether the workplace will be unionized, a federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), conducts such an election under rules that are supposed to ensure “fairness.” For example, it’s illegal for the employer to promise benefits to the workers if they vote not to unionize. That interference with freedom of speech and contract is just one of the many coercive aspects of the law.
To download a PDF of the document Click here. Or to read the document on line, on google docs, you may click here.
In Why Socialism Is the People’s Choice by James Ostrowski, June 2003, Future of Freedom Foundation Daily:
Socialism does not work, because, instead of allowing the price system to be a vehicle of rational economic planning, it sabotages the price system as much as possible. In its extreme form, socialism would eliminate prices for capital goods — by seizing them — and thereby cause economic annihilation. Even socialism’s less extreme interventions injure the price system. Taxation, inflation, subsidies, occupational licensure, collective bargaining mandates, and so on all distort market prices and cripple their ability to convey accurate information about preferences and scarcities.The entire piece is compelling, powerful and clear. To read it Click here.
And a repost from a recent post of mine on this blog: The Trouble with Public Sector Unions by DANIEL DISALVO, in National Affairs, Issue Number 5, Fall 2010
Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers: "Meticulous attention," the president insisted in 1937, "should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." The reason? F.D.R. believed that "[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable." Roosevelt was hardly alone in holding these views, even among the champions of organized labor. Indeed, the first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, believed it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."Click here to read this insightful and timeless piece in full.
Courts across the nation also generally held that collective bargaining by government workers should be forbidden on the legal grounds of sovereign immunity and unconstitutional delegation of government powers. In 1943, a New York Supreme Court judge held:
To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous.
The very nature of many public services — such as policing the streets and putting out fires — gives government a monopoly or near monopoly; striking public employees could therefore hold the public hostage. As long-time New York Times labor reporter A. H. Raskin wrote in 1968: "The community cannot tolerate the notion that it is defenseless at the hands of organized workers to whom it has entrusted responsibility for essential services."