12.06.14 - Right to Work Works!
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Summary: Does everyone have the right not to join a trade union, or labor union, in order to enjoy the right to work?

The concept of the right to work is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was drafted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Article 23.1 declares, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment.” Article 23.4 goes on to state, “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” Those statements raise a couple of interesting questions: Does everyone have the right not to join a trade union, or labor union, in order to enjoy the right to work? And if one is compelled to join a labor union in order to exercise his right to work, then how can one be said to have free choice of employment and to have protection against unemployment?

For purposes of this discussion, the definition of the Right to Work principle will be that provided by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research:

The Right to Work principle — the guiding concept of the Institute — affirms the right of every free American to work for a living without being compelled to belong to a union. Compulsory unionism in any form — “union,” “closed,” or “agency” shop — is a contradiction of the Right to Work principle and the fundamental human right which that principle represents. Every individual must have the right, but must not be compelled, to join a labor union.

The Right to Work is neither “anti-union” nor “pro-union.” It is a matter of individual freedom. The Right to Work principle affirms the right of all Americans to work where they want and for whom they want without coercion of any kind to join or not to join labor unions, or to support them in any way. Unions, after all, are private organizations. No other private organization in America insists on having the power to extract financial support from unwilling people.

We know that a labor union is a private organization of workers, but what kind of private organization is a labor union? Is it a fraternity? Is it a business? Is it a charity? In any case, there is a crucial distinction between labor unions and all other private organizations: Labor unions use coercion in the attempts to achieve their goals. As insinuated in the Right to Work definition above, no other form of private organization is allowed to compel people to become members and to force them to pay dues against their will in order to get or keep a job.

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