The Good and Bad of Unions

Private employees unions (I will leave out public employee unions from this discussion, as they are a different animal) enter the public discourse a lot less frequently than they did in my youth, say in the 1970's.  At that time, union power and actions and negotiations and strikes were very frequent stories on the evening news.  However, one thing I have noticed throughout my life is that commentators seems to be either all-in for or against unions.  I actually think the issues are more subtle, and that unionization is a mixed bag.

On the pro side, unions are basically free association.  It is the right of any set of individuals to band together for negotiating leverage.

On the pro and con side is the role of government.  Early on, the government acted to stop individuals from exercising their free association rights and forcibly break up unions and bar their activities.  Today, I would probably argue the government has slid the other way by writing rules to tilt negotiating power away from employers towards unions (the obvious counter to this is if it is true, why have private unions withered over the last two decades).

On the con side, and it is a big con, is the tendency of unions to push beyond just wage and working condition negotiation into advocating for productivity destroying rules (e.g. featherbedding, strict job categories, etc).  These productivity destroying rules have helped to undermine whole industries, and, ironically, the unions themselves.  They embody an inherent contradiction in that the wages gains the union wants require productivity gains to support, productivity gains which are impossible under union-preferred work rules.

Here is a great example of the negative side of these union rules, from a NYT report on why New York subways cost so much more to build than do similar projects in the rest of the world

It is not just tunneling machines that are overstaffed, though. A dozen New York unions work on tunnel creation, station erection and system setup. Each negotiates with the construction companies over labor conditions, without the M.T.A.’s involvement. And each has secured rules that contractors say require more workers than necessary.

The unions and vendors declined to release the labor deals, but The Times obtained them. Along with interviews with contractors, the documents reveal a dizzying maze of jobs, many of which do not exist on projects elsewhere.

There are “nippers” to watch material being moved around and “hog house tenders” to supervise the break room. Each crane must have an “oiler,” a relic of a time when they needed frequent lubrication. Standby electricians and plumbers are to be on hand at all times, as is at least one “master mechanic.” Generators and elevators must have their own operators, even though they are automatic. An extra person is required to be present for all concrete pumping, steam fitting, sheet metal work and other tasks.

In New York, “underground construction employs approximately four times the number of personnel as in similar jobs in Asia, Australia, or Europe,” according to an internal report by Arup, a consulting firm that worked on the Second Avenue subway and many similar projects around the world.

That ratio does not include people who get lost in the sea of workers and get paid even though they have no apparent responsibility, as happened on East Side Access. The construction company running that project declined to comment.

The article also touches on one of my frequent themes, about why Progressives still support huge public sector payrolls when these actually reduce the government services they are passionate about:

Public officials, mired in bureaucracy, have not acted to curb the costs. The M.T.A. has not adopted best practices nor worked to increase competition in contracting, and it almost never punishes vendors for spending too much or taking too long, according to inspector general reports.

At the heart of the issue is the obscure way that construction costs are set in New York. Worker wages and labor conditions are determined through negotiations between the unions and the companies, none of whom have any incentive to control costs. The transit authority has made no attempt to intervene to contain the spending.

“It’s sad, really,” said Lok Home, owner of the Robbins Company, which manufactured much of the tunneling equipment used for East Side Access. “Because if they controlled the costs, they could do twice as many expansion projects and still have more money for maintenance.”

  • DaveK

    You forgot to include the often criminally extortive tactics used by unions to pressure businesses to yield to their demands, as well as to pressure members to participate in their "labor actions". While not all unions do this, the practices are all too common and rarely punished.

  • Paul L McKaskle

    The one error in your analysis is that the situation you describe is a quasi-public union situation. Yes, the contractors are private companies but they have no incentive to control costs because the public agency doesn't care-and may even be complicit in promoting the featherbedding.

  • Maximum Liberty

    A big additional con on the role of government is that it forces some association and speech and prohibits other association and speech:
    1. Workers in unionized work forces are compelled to pay dues and thus support the union's speech (with some limitations on political speech).
    2. The collective bargaining process forces an employer to negotiate with the union. It has to go through process before it can say no.
    3.The collective bargaining process prohibits the employer from negotiating with individual employees.

  • "Workers in unionized work forces are compelled to pay dues"

    Well, yes. Just like customers in bakeries are compelled to pay for bread.

  • Agammamon

    No - just like people are compelled to pay for bread in the bakeries they are compelled to shop in.

  • Agammamon

    They aren't punished because a lot of that behavior - which would be criminal for non-union people to engage in - is made explicitly legal when done in the course of 'negotiations'.

  • DaveK

    No, it's implicitly legal. There is no law on the books that I know of that actually gives them a pass when they threaten (or even directly injure) people and their families, or purposely cause property property damage that is often quite serious. If you know of such a law on the books I'd love to know about it.

    The authorities simply ignore the crimes, or use "prosecutorial discretion". Further, companies usually agree not to sue (or file criminal charges) for real damages as part of an ultimate negotiated settlement. It doesn't make what was done legal or right.

  • jimc5499

    You are correct. In 1989 I was working on a contract job for a company when that company went on strike. We were hired to do a project that the union wanted no part of, we were not scabs. When they went on strike they wanted us to join them, but, we couldn't because of a contract that we had signed. So a few days into the strike they firebombed my car. The men who did it were caught and the prosecutor declined to press charges be cause he was up for re-election. The company paid off my finance company and that was it. I was left with no car and no way to do anything about it.

  • Unknown Commenter

    Progressives live to fuck up everything they are allowed to touch.

  • Not Sure

    Well, no. Unlike shopping for bread, if your job is unionized you don't have a choice of which union to pay to represent you.

  • If your job is unionized, you have the choice of continuing in that job and paying the union for its services to you, or not continuing in that job. The US does not have labor conscription, and you're perfectly free not to let the door hit you in the ass on your way out it.

    Speaking of which we _are_ speaking about the US here, which has a specific set of labor laws that are not necessarily the same as in other countries. It is government involvement which sets up mandatory closed shops and single/exclusive workplace unions (under Wagner) or which equally wickedly forbids exclusive labor contracts and requires unions to represent people who aren't members and don't pay dues (in Taft-Hartley "right to work" [sic] states).

  • See above. The US doesn't have labor conscription. You aren't compelled to work in a shop with an exclusive union contract.

  • Not Sure

    Personally, I think people (prospective employers/employees) should be able to make whatever arrangements for employment that they want, but I realize that's a tough pill to swallow for those who think they know best how others' lives should be managed. That being the case...

    If you're going to insist that I'm perfectly free not to let the door hit me in the ass on my way out of a job in a state where I'm forced to be a member of a union, I would expect that you would also insist that a union in a right to work state not let the door hit their ass on their way out of a business where they disagree with being required to represent people who don't pay dues.

    But you didn't do that, did you?

  • GoneWithTheWind

    What you are obviously and intentionally missing is that you are forced to join the union and are forced to pay the dues and the unions use the dues to buy congressman and legislators so that they will pass more laws that give unions our rights and take those rights from citizens. If the unions were so freaking good for the workers why mandate membership???

    Time to end Davis-Bacon.

  • Union membership isn't mandated. You're free to not take, or keep, a job at a union shop all day long.

    Absent state involvement, employers might or might not agree to exclusive contracts with labor unions.

  • There is no state where you're forced to be a member of a union. Not a single one of the 50.

    The problem is state involvement -- at both ends of the equation. Both Wagner and Taft-Hartley should be repealed.

  • Bruce Zeuli

    In some states Union Reps are exempt from Stalking laws. They can legally follow you home and comment on your beautiful wife and lovely children. And then they can strongly encourage you to join the union.
    If this isn't stalking then why do they need a special exemption?

  • Not Sure

    "Union membership isn't mandated. You're free to not take, or keep, a job at a union shop all day long."

    And unions are free to represent all workers in right to work states regardless of whether or not they pay dues, or not represent any of them all day long. But only one of these arrangements was described as "wicked" by you.

    Why is that?

  • Not Sure

    That's what happens when one thinks one knows better than other people how their lives should be managed.

  • b w

    Unions are, ultimately, a pact among workers not to compete with each other.
    Why is it ok when all the vendors of, say carpentry services or automotive assembly services form a pact not to compete, but not when all the vendors of furniture or cars do so?

  • DaveK

    Right... you can leave a good job, forfeit any unemployment benefits, also likely retirement benefits that you have accrued, and go searching for another. You might just be lucky enough to find one before your savings run out.

    Unless you are in a right-to-work state, if your shop gets unionized, you are FORCED to pay dues, even if you do not belong to the union. Further, when the union thugs come around and deliver veiled (or perhaps explicit) threats to you and your family if you don't join, I suppose you think that's just a boys-will-be-boys sort of prank. And if you say that doesn't happen you are either deluded or a liar.

    Unions have done some very good things for labor in this country... but most of that was in my grandfathers' time. They have overreached their usefulness and deserve the ill will that they have accrued in recent years.

  • DaveK

    You are right... but what difference is there between being forced to join the union, and being forced to pay their danegeld.

  • b w

    "Well, yes. Just like customers in bakeries are compelled to pay for bread."

    A more apt comparison would be just like the baker is compelled to pay protection money to the local organized crime syndicate. We're not talking about paying for goods and services that one WANTS to obtain. We're talking about compelling one to pay for services one does not desire or would not purchase absent the coercion, when one would prefer to forgo those services and seek a deal with an employer as an individual based on one's own merit. In a closed shop, one is denied the right to do business with party A unless one first pays party B to act as an intermediary, regardless of whether one desires mediation services. It's like saying you can't buy bread from Ralph the baker unless you also buy meat from Sam the butcher, your preference for toast over sandwiches notwithstanding.

  • b w

    Warren, I'm pretty sure I can recall you blogging in condemnation of occupational licensing laws that serve only to limit competition. That's often referred to as guilding - how is that different from unions, which you seem reluctant to condemn out of hand?

  • irandom419

    I love the part where constructions workers are paid to park their cars, also prison guards too. I thought it would be funny if a law mandated valet in the title of anyone whose pay began upon hitting the property. I wish that something of a trade union existed that was more of a skilled temp agency that could compete.

  • Because the latter is not something unions are "free" to do. It's something they're mandated by law to do.

    I'm against laws requiring closed shops, and I'm against laws forbidding closed shops. Both kinds of laws are wicked because both kinds of laws are antithetical to the idea of a free market.

  • Max

    Do you know about the Betriebsrat system in Germany? Here workers are "unionized" within a factory or company. They elect representatives to negotiate a common treaty between the workforce and the management. They can be of a union but they don't have to belong to one. If not you should read up about the German system. It is certainly interesting.

  • Peabody

    Occupational licensing laws is the government prohibiting an individual from performing a service for a willing customer unless that individual meets certain government criteria. Private unions are workers collectively grouping together. If you want to talk about how public unions or the governments actions towards or with unions limits competition, I don't think you'll hear many arguments.

    Of note, occupational licensing laws are not commonly referred to as "guilding".

  • Robert Falk

    My father and several uncles and aunts were factory workers and union members. During a major strike in the early fifties, my father delivered several radio addresses to union members in the Chicago area. Since he was not a union official, I don’t think he wrote them. He just got to deliver them because he had a good speaking voice. I grew up hearing that unions were good, though I couldn’t see the good in beating the hell out of strikebreakers or in purposely doing as little work as possible. “Frenchie”, my father’s union rep, spent his day in a stall in the men’s room reading the paper and sleeping. He never did any of the work he was paid to do.

    To make money for high school and college, from the time I was 16 until I was 21, I worked every summer at The Lakeside Press, an enormous factory complex covering several blocks about three miles south of the Chicago Loop. We printed Sears catalogs, phone books for major cities, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, and much more. I worked in the bindery, carrying stacks of printed paper to the binding machines, or loading or unloading conveyor belts. I worked with some other students working their way through school, but mostly with full-time laborers.

    The Lakeside Press was a highly respected major employer in Chicago. Members of my extended family had worked there, as had many family friends. The company was privately owned by The Donnelley family which had a vast estate in a posh northern suburb. The Donnelley's took an active role in managing the company. They often visited the factory floor to talk to employees and to see how new innovations were working out. Handsome and impeccably dressed, Gaylord Donnelley just reeked of money, but the factory women all had a crush on him and the men thought he was a good guy.

    The company sponsored a bowling league, a softball league, an annual picnic, and other activities, and published an beautifully bound, gilt edged, book on some topic of American pioneer history every year. A book was sent as a Christmas gift to all full-time employees.

    The company promoted from within and sponsored free classes for people who wanted to get ahead. If you got into an apprenticeship program, they paid you to attend class. There was a generous profit-sharing plan for people who came up with new procedures or mechanical innovations which saved the company money. A good idea was worth thousands of dollars per year for five years. Everyone kept their eyes open for ways to help themselves by helping the company.

    The company did not provide all these employee benefits just to be nice. A major motivation was to keep the employees happy so the company would not become unionized.

    Having no union made a tremendous difference. Employees were expected to keep their own work area clean, while janitors just cleaned the common areas. The management could put you on a different job whenever the need arose. There was no grief about needing to belong to a certain union before you could do a job. One day the machine I was working on had a major breakdown. About twenty people were suddenly idle. There was nothing for us to do, so the boss said “ You guys can check out and go home early, but I know that you need the money, so everyone who wants to stay come with me and you can start painting the walls of the warehouse.” There was no painters’ union to complain.

    In all the time I worked there, I never heard anyone complain about the company. We workers felt that we were part of the company.

    The summer between my two years of graduate school I got a job at The Riverside Press in Cambridge. I figured it was perfect: it was right down the street from my apartment, and I knew how to do the job. I even got to work the evening shift, which is what I’d done in Chicago. The Riverside Press was a union shop. The contrast with The Lakeside press was astounding.

    First, it paid about 7% less per hour. I attribute this to the employees being so unproductive that the company could not afford to pay them more. The place was filthy, but you were not allowed to sweep your own floor because that “took a job away from a member of the janitors’ union.” Machinery broke down more frequently because there was no pride in being productive. Every costly breakdown and idle hour was seen as a way to “stick it to The Man”.

    One night the foreman asked me if I wanted to work overtime. Usually the plant closed down at eleven, but they were terribly behind on an order and were willing to pay time-and-a-half to catch up. I gladly said yes.

    At eleven I went to the lunch room for some coffee and a quick snack. At about twelve after, I got up and started to leave. The operator of our binding machine said “Where in the hell are you goin’?”

    “I’m going upstairs. Don’t we start at 11:15?”

    “Sit down,” he ordered. “All the bosses go home at eleven. We work or asses off all day. They can’t make us do it now.”

    I told him I’d be more comfortable waiting at the machine and left. At about 11:45 the first crew members started straggling in. The operator turned on the machine at twelve but ran it slower than normal. Fifteen minutes later he stopped it and turned off the working lights. “That’s it,” he announced.

    We spent the next two hours and forty-five minutes sitting around so we could punch out at three. The regulars spent some of the time saying shockingly crude --though incredibly creative-- things to the females. Some of the time was spent on shocking comments about the “Fucking Niggers” and the “Fucking Faggots.” But most of the time was spent bitching about how boring it was to sit around doing nothing in this fucking sweatshop where we were worked to death.

    One August, many years later, I was attending a prestigious teachers’ retreat in Philadelphia. On the last day, I asked one of the friends I’d made --a Philadelphia high school teacher-- when he’d be going back to school.

    “ The Tuesday after Labor Day,” he answered.

    “No, no,” I said. “When do you go back to school?.”

    “ The Tuesday after Labor Day.”

    “In that case, when do the kids come back to school.”

    “ The Tuesday after Labor Day.”

    For many years I’d taught at a private school where every teacher had a key to the building. Teachers could be found there in the evening and on weekends working on lessons and improving their classrooms. People popped in all summer. Two weeks before the start of school most people were busy in their rooms even though our contracts did not start until the following week. I was stunned by my friend’s answer.

    “How do you get your books, supplies, class lists, and everything else ready for the first day?” I asked.

    “I don’t,” he replied. “Our contract doesn’t pay us to come in before the Tuesday after Labor Day, so we don’t.”

    “But you can’t possibly do a decent job not even knowing who or what you’re teaching for the first week of school,” I argued.

    “If they want me to do a decent job, they can pay me for an extra week,”was his answer.

    With extra pay for coaching tennis, the man was earning close to $100,000 a year.

    Many articles about unions talk about their costliness and destruction of productivity. (An exhibitor at a computer convention was forced to pay $350 for a union electrician to make a service call to plug in an extension cord. A theater group had to pay an entire orchestra to sit silent each night because the only music required by the script had to be a local station playing on the radio. Enthusiastic new workers who point out ways to be more productive are told to slow down or face the consequences.) But I haven’t seen mention of the serious damage done by unions in their destruction of the human spirit. People in union jobs are constantly told by coworkers that they are being screwed, mistreated, and exploited. People are frustrated by being kept from doing their best. You can’t live with those feelings year after year --and spend every day bitching about it-- without being feeling terribly inadequate. Imagine how differently people would feel if the union could honestly say “Union workers are the best trained, most productive workers in the industry. Our work is of the highest quality. If you want it done right, hire a union worker. We cost more because we ‘re worth it.”

  • Ombibulous

    Union labor law in the U.S. is based on the use or threat of violence to force an employer to enter into a contract with others. To understand how this is evil, scale it down to an individual level - you are forced, by the threat of death, to hire and negotiate terms with the kid who shovels the snow off your driveway.

  • CC

    Warren, you never answered why the Left loves unions. They love them because unions are a special interest group which is identifiable and with which you can make a deal. The link to unions often causes the Dems to back policies that hurt the minorities they claim to represent, such as teacher's unions and charter schools or the huge pension debt due to public sector unions that impoverishes cities and keeps them from helping the poor or maintaining stuff. The overtly political nature of many unions is not inherent in the existence of a union and really should be illegal since not all members agree with the politics of the union leadership.

  • ColoComment
  • Maddog

    By freedom to associate do you mean forced association?

    https://www.maddogslair.com/blog/the-bad-of-private-sector-unions

    I don't know about you, but forced association is unconstitutional, outside of government. Even if government passes laws requiring it. Private sector unions are forced association, and, thus, unconstitutional.

    Mark Sherman

  • John O.

    Why should I care if NYC goes broke a second time from the mess they created by rewarding union contracts that break the bank?

  • jon spencer

    If you are a employer and you treat your employee's so that a majority want to bring a union in, you deserve the union.

    I have worked as a union member in a union shop, worked non-union in a union shop and worked in a non-union shop.
    All had pros and cons.
    The non-union shop was the better place to work.
    But it was a good bunch of people to work for and with.

  • herdgadfly

    The tame New York Times report on the "The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth" points to extortion, bribery and corruption prevalent as part of the cost of doing business in NYC's construction industry, but somehow the real story, which Esquire called "The Mafia's Bite Of The Big Apple" back in June of 1988.

    When the Jacob Javett's Convention Center concrete construction bids were let, the winner was S&A Concrete, owned by Mafia crime boss Anthony Salerno for $30 million but with the only other bid was a whopping $41 Million. A Connecticut firm working on another bid, suddenly dropped out after receiving a call from a Salerno lackey. The way the system works illustrates how criminal elements can take advantage of bureaucratic complexity, politics, and leave-well-enough-alone businessmen to penetrate an industry vital to a great city's well-being - the costs flow downhill from mobster to builder to buyer to renter.

    During the ground-breaking ceremony for the $250 million Gateway Plaza apartment complex in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, the builder, Sam LeFrak, told John Cody, then president of Teamster Local 282, that he was planning to use labor-saving precast concrete instead of ready-mix. Cody, who has since done a little time for labor racketeering and lost his Teamster post, made it clear that his boys who drove the ready-mix trucks wouldn't like LeFrak's idea. What he didn't mention was that Paul ''Big Paul'' Castellano, godfather of the Gambino crime family until he was gunned down on a midtown sidewalk in 1985, wouldn't like it either. In recent times, a class action lawsuit was filed against LeFrak for the living conditions in these apartments which become "uninhabitable" in the winter at a cost of $2,350 per month. To add insult to injury LeFrak buys the electricity from Con Ed and upcharges it to tenants to run space heaters.

    But the other shoe drops when you consider that Trump Tower and most of Trump's Manhattan skyscrapers and the Atlantic City casinos once owned by Trump are concrete. Indeed our "upstanding" President has made his living playing by Mafia rules.

  • JTW

    In the US at least, there is no freedom of association when it comes to unions. If the company is unionised, by law you MUST join the union or you can't be employed there.
    So if 50% +1 of your fellow employees decide to join the unions you're either forced to join as well or you have to quit your job.

    Doesn't sound very free, does it?

  • Trimegistus

    The big problem that any union has is precisely that it cannot be an entirely free association. If workers don't join, or if members don't participate in collective bargaining or strikes, then the union can't succeed. But that means that the union winds up having to coerce workers into joining, and punish defectors. This coercion and punishment can be social or moral, but is often direct and physical. That tendency toward gangsterism seems to almost inevitably undermine unions and deflect them from their original purpose, turning them into nothing but rackets. One can see the Soviet Union as the greatest example of that, but the Teamsters or SEIU are equally relevant.

  • Pave Low John

    Every time I saw the USAF use unionized civilian contractors for training or maintenance, it blew up in their face. The unionized aircraft maintenance at Laughlin AFB had an extended strike back in 1995 that got so bad, they just up and moved all training to Randolph AFB in San Antonio. Then, when I was an instructor at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico, there was another strike in 2000 that almost brought training to a halt. The Air Force officers in charge of those two bases couldn't do a damned thing about it, civilian union officials have way more power than a mere colonel or general, probably because they make hefty political contributions to the local officials. The whole thing stank to high heaven and I have to confess, I have a pretty low opinion of unions and union people after those two experiences.....

  • CapitalistRoader
  • morganovich

    an EPC company is a fraud conduit with incorporation papers.

    only in NYC could someone say this:

    “Is it rigged? Yes,” said Charles G. Moerdler, who has served on the M.T.A. board since 2010. “I don’t think it’s corrupt. But I think people like doing business with people they know, and so a few companies get all the work, and they can charge whatever they want.”

    so, it’s rigged, the same few companies get all the work, they can charge whatever they want, and they make huge donations to the politicians that choose vendors, but no, why would you call that corrupt?

    wow. just wow.

  • Ruggerbunny

    As noted below, that only applies in closed-shop states. In right to work states the freedom of association violations work in the opposite direction. The union is forced to represent all workers, even those not in the union. This means the workers get the benefits of union membership without having to support the union.

    That arrangement is just as unfair.

  • Ruggerbunny

    "force an employer to enter into a contract with others."

    At no point is the employer forced to do anything. They do not have to employ these people.

    It is the same argument the other way around. A single employer is forcing the local populace to work for them at the wages and conditions they set. Do you agree with this statement? If not, then you can't agree with your point.

  • Ruggerbunny

    In right to work states you do.

    And there the union is forced to represent you regardless of your membership. So that door swings both ways.

  • b w

    Saying the union is FORCED to represent non-members is disingenuous. The union wouldn't have it any other way. If non-members could cut individual deals that differed from the collective one, the union would fall apart.

  • b w

    "It's something they're mandated by law to do."

    That's not really true. The unions wouldn't have it any other way. If the non-union workers in a union shop in a right-to-work state were free to make their own individual deals, the union that shop would wither and die in short order.

  • Then, the union is forced to "choose" between representing free-riders and letting those free-riders work around the union, destroying its raison d'être.

  • From New York State Penal Law:

    A person is guilty of harassment in the first degree when he or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person by following such person in or about a public place or places or by engaging in a course of conduct or by repeatedly committing acts which places such person in reasonable fear of physical injury.  This section shall not apply to activities regulated by the national labor relations act, [FN1] as amended, the railway labor act, [FN2] as amended, or the federal employment labor management act, [FN3] as amended.

    Harassment in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor.

    [FN1]
     29 USCA § 151 et seq.

    [FN2]
     45 USCA § 151 et seq.

    [FN3]
     So in original.  Probably refers to the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act, 5 USCA § 7101 et seq.

    A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person:

    1. He or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;  or

    2. He or she follows a person in or about a public place or places;  or

    3. He or she engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose.

    Subdivisions two and three of this section shall not apply to activities regulated by the national labor relations act, [FN1] as amended, the railway labor act, [FN2] as amended, or the federal employment labor management act, [FN3] as amended.

    Harassment in the second degree is a violation [basically an infraction -- but you can still go to jail].

    [FN1]
     29 USCA § 151 et seq.

    [FN2]
     45 USCA § 151 et seq.

    [FN3]
     So in original.  Probably refers to the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act, 5 USCA § 7101 et seq.

  • The non-union workers in union shops in both "right to work" and non-"right-to-work" states are free to make their own individual deals (in non-"right-to-work" states, those workers will typically be management, sometimes with clerical and ancillary services also excluded). But in "right to work" states, workers who would normally be part of whatever the bargaining unit is are guaranteed wages as if they were dues-paying union members, benefits as if they were dues-paying union members, and disciplinary/grievance representation as if they were dues-paying union members, whether or not they're dues-paying union members.

    Closed shop states abrogate freedom of contract by requiring employers to bargain exclusively through the union and requiring all the workers in the bargaining unit to be union members.

    "Right to work" states abrogate freedom of contract by forbidding employers to bargain exclusively through a union and requiring the union to pretend that all the workers in the bargaining unit, including those who choose not to be union members, are union members.

  • You're not forced to do either one.