“Worker’s Choice” Proposal

On June 2, 2015, Vincent Vernuccio, the Director of Labor Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and one of my predecessors here at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, released a new paper proposing a policy he entitles “Worker’s Choice.”

“Worker’s Choice,” addressing government workers in states with right-to-work laws, “would release employees from unwanted union representation and relieve unions from providing services to so-called free/forced riders.”

Free-market detractors deride the freedom to decline to join a union as “the free-rider problem,” arguing that workers who do not join a union nonetheless benefit from the union, for free. Big Labor operatives say that such a worker rides for free. However, the Big Labor imagery is atrocious spin.

Trapped in taxi

The picture you should have in your mind is a horror movie where you are trapped in the back seat of a locked taxi with no functioning door handles. You cannot escape. After you are captured, you are taken against your will to a destination you loathe and oppose. Upon arrival you are herded together with other captives and told you must pay for the taxi trip!

Freedom-loving, “classical” liberals refer to this scenario as “the forced-rider problem.”

The forced-rider problem is actually even worse because unions themselves have a choice as to what form they take. When forming, unions may choose to be the exclusive bargaining representative for all the workers or they may choose to be a members-only union representing only workers who freely decide to join the union.

Kentucky attorney Jason Nemes analogized the problem to the youth who murders his parents and then asks the judge for leniency on the grounds that he is an orphan. Obviously the analogy holds because in both cases the protagonist has caused the problem.

Indeed, the union does not have to take on the burden of representing all of the workers. Rather, the union wants the monopoly on representing all of the workers. The union wants the control and wants to use their spin on the forced-rider problem. Ultimately the union wants to extract money from as many of the workers as possible. Unions are money-focused entities. Big Labor is itself a big business.

“Worker’s Choice” would allow employees to represent themselves. At the same time, “Worker’s Choice” would relieve even unions that have formed themselves as exclusive bargaining representatives of the duty to provide services to workers who are not union members.

Vernuccio’s proposed policy is sound. He even provides model legislation. Vernuccio has also thought through some of the procedural hurdles, crafting the model legislation in such a way as to avoid major changes to a state’s public sector bargaining law.

Watch Vernuccio’s short video about the proposal and read the details yourself here.