I always read Masson’s Blog, and always find him insightful, but this morning’s post on the mis-named “Right to Work” proposal is an absolute home run.
In an era that elevates spin over accuracy, naming/framing all too often substitutes for describing. “Right to Work” is a wonderful example–who could be opposed to people’s right to work? It is phrasing that feeds into the American belief in individual rights. And as Doug Masson explains, it is a phrase that has very little relationship to the reality of the legislation.
As Masson writes,
The perniciously named “right to work” is a misnomer. What the law really does is use government authority to prohibit a certain kind of contract. As it stands now, employers and employees have the freedom to enter into a contract whereby one of the conditions of employment is that employees join a union or, at least, pay some equivalent of union dues so they are not tempted to be free riders, receiving union benefits without paying for them. So, it’s a contractual provision that is currently permitted but not required. “Right to work” is a limitation on this freedom to contract. The General Assembly tells employers that they are not permitted to make union membership a condition of employment.
This is typically dressed up as championing the rights of future employees who might not want to join a union as a condition of employment; but the oddity is that typically the advocates of this restriction on contracts are, in other contexts, champions of absolute freedom to contract and could rarely care less what a potential employee thinks about the conditions of employment set by an employer. (Don’t like that condition of employment? Fine, go work somewhere else.) But, when union membership comes up, horrors! Conditions that are pro-union or anti-gun are off the table, but pretty much anything else goes.”
This post should be distributed far and wide.