I am far, far, far from an expert on labor practice. So why the hell shouldn’t I have my own theory on how unions should function?
Let me start by saying that this theory is focused exclusively on private sector unions. Public sector unions present some unique bugaboos that I’m not exactly sure how to work around. This means that this isn’t particularly relevant to the discussion of teachers’ unions that got me thinking, but alas…
1.) Employees have the right to negotiate for the best possible deal they can get.
2.) Employees have the right to assemble and negotiate en masse.
3.) Employers have the right to negotiate for the best possible deal they can get.
4.) Employers can choose to negotiate with employees individually or collectively.
5.) Union membership cannot be required by law. Union membership can be required by the employer.
6.) Union membership itself (as in, simply by function of being a member of a union) cannot be held against an employee or potential employee. However, the employer retains the right to insist on negotiating individually with the employee absent union representation.
7.) The law should grant no special rights, privileges, or powers to unions to legally privilege members over non-members.
So… everyone… tell me why I’m wrong about this?
Regarding public sector unions, the players are too far removed from the direct consequences of their negotiations that additional rules may be required. For instance, unelected school leaders can cave to teachers’ salary demands and kick the can down the road to the taxpayers or other areas of government to make up the difference. There are important constituencies (i.e., the public) who are largely excluded from the negotiations. This is not to say that their shouldn’t be public sector unions, only that I haven’t quite squared that circle yet. For instance, I think laws against certain public sector unions striking are probably legitimate in a way that I would not restrict the negotiating tactics of private sector unions.