In Graduate students at private colleges can join labor unions, MarketWatch reports,
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.
Law-Favored Unions are Quasi-Criminal Organizations