Tuesday, August 30, 2016

NLRB ‘Grants’ Students ‘Right to Unionize,’ Which Really Means Power to Coerce

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Columbia University graduate students are employees under federal labor law, paving the way for graduate students at private colleges nationwide to join labor unions.

But wait. Doesn’t everybody have a right to form or join a union? Isn’t that one of the inalienable individual rights covered under the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment? Who can stop these students from privately forming a voluntary union? The Wall Street Journal clarifies, somewhat, what this new “right” actually means. In Graduate Students Can Unionize at Private Colleges, U.S. Labor Panel Rules, the Journal reports that the “Decision grants collective bargaining rights to tens of thousands across the nation.”

“In their broad-based decision, the NLRB swept aside decades of earlier history and basically said that any student who does either research or teaching in a private-sector institution will be considered a school employee entitled to be represented by a union,” said Joseph Ambash, a Boston lawyer who helped write a brief filed by several prestigious universities arguing against a pro-union decision.

My emphasis. “Entitled to be represented by a union” is a lot different from a right to unionize. Rights are not entitlements granted by government. What does “entitled” mean in this context? The Washington Post is most accurate:

The National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities are school employees, clearing the way for them to join or form unions that administrators must recognize.

Again, my emphasis. This ruling is not about the right to unionize. As I said in my article on the subject for The Objective Standard, which had to do with the Fast-Food Forward minimum wage/“right to organize” demonstrations backed by the Service Employees International Union, the idea that the government needs to grant the working students the right to organize into unions “is a red herring intended to make . . . unreasonable demands sound reasonable.

There is no law against “the right to organize.” The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of association . . . . The students in question already have the right to join unions and to ask for higher wages [or other benefits]. So what is this [ruling] really about?

The “rights” sought by the [students] are the “freedom” not to associate voluntarily, but to violate the rights of employers to run their businesses as they see fit and to enter into voluntary, mutually consensual contracts with employees. Specifically, the [students] want to use the force of government, mainly the Wagner Act, to coerce some people to join unions and to coerce [colleges] to “bargain” with unions under threat of government penalties if the owners do not concede to union demands.

The freedom of association includes the freedom not to associate. “No individual or group has a moral right to drag another party to the ‘bargaining’ table by government force.” But that’s what so-called “collective bargaining rights” actually mean. There is no right to force an employer, or anyone, to bargain, whether collectively or otherwise.

Related Reading:

Law-Favored Unions are Quasi-Criminal Organizations


Mike Kevitt said...

Of course, 'governments' and these graduate students know everything you're saying here. They're very familiar with it. THEY JUST DON'T CARE. They've chosen their values, their world views and philosophies (unlike high schoolers and some undergrads). They're set in stone. They insist that in this, and in many cases, crime is ok and that crime pays, and that it's even moral. They're beyond argument and they have the physical power meant for law and government. What peaceful way is there to deal with them? Everybody in the country has that same power to commit crime by criminal plan in the position of law. Nothing stops anybody, except those who hold to rational thinking or a philosophy of reason.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

This is true. But I think there’s something deeper going on. I think a sort of mysticism is at work here; the idea—no, the feeling—that society, and thus the state as society’s representative, is God, and thus the creator of morality. It follows that the elected representatives are above the moral law that we mere private citizens must adhere to. In other words, it’s a crime if you do it, but not if the same act is legislated. The term “the divine right of elected officials” fits here, I think. This divine right stems from what I call democracy fundamentalism—pure majority rule. We’re not quite there yet. But we get closer with every erosion of individual rights. Without individual rights to keep society and government in check, we’ll end up living under the premise, “It’s moral if the government did or approves it, because the government did or approves it, so long as the government is elected.”

Mike Kevitt said...

This is true, too. But the deep thing, underlying god, whether secular or theological, is turning away from reason, thus, from knowledge, morality and rights. It appears to be legion, throughout U.S. and world culture. It's a huge majority of everybody, and growing. As I've said, the Objectivist movement is light years behind the curve. The likes of Ayn Rand should've been born 100 yrs. before Ayn Rand. It was already needed by then.

If, thru the now steady erosion of individual rights, we reach pure majority rule, the 1st. Amendment will shortly be made empty and meaningless, of no influence. I think this process is unstoppable, now, and if we want to remain free, we must seize our freedom somehow, and be a majority, or a unanimity, in our own culture, however small that culture might be. From there, we can then grow in size.

This is what I think, and this is the best, and most specific, response I can give to your total disagreement with me when I implied that the cops should put the arm onto legislators who pass criminal plans instead of laws, action which you said would have to be done by insurrectionists.

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