Libertarian Party of Ohio on Right to Work laws

Posted on the web page of the Libertarian Party of Ohio. H/T Kevin Knedler.

In this tumultuous time of debate on Senate Bill 5, and Ohio’s attempt at collective bargaining reform, let’s take a look at the Right to Work laws which seem to have been placed aside.

Right to Work laws are statutes of the Taft-Hartley Act that prevent unions and employers from making contracts that force employees to join or pay dues to a union. Before the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, unions and employers could operate under ‘closed shop’ rules that make workers be a part of and pay dues to a union. An employee could also be fired if they stopped paying dues or participating in union events, even if they didn’t break any company rules. Taft-Hartley outlawed this, but still allowed ‘union shop’ rules which still forced an employee to join a union after a certain amount of time. However, employers didn’t have to fire a worker for leaving the union.

Section 14B of the Taft-Hartley Act is where our Right to Work laws come from, allowing individual states to pass them. Right to Work laws are neither for nor against unions. They are for individual freedom. Currently 22 states have Right to Work laws, and Ohio is NOT one of them. The diagram below outlines which states are forced unionism and which states are Right to Work. It also illustrates the correlation between that and how many seats in the House of Representatives were lost or gained in the 2010 Census. Ohio and New York, forced unionism states, lost two seats due to population loss, whereas Texas gained 4 and Florida, another Right to Work state, gained 2 seats from population growth. Right to Work laws were not the only reason for the mass migration of workers, but states that  respect a worker’s right to choose also tend to have lower tax rates and friendlier business climates as a whole.

Supporters of Right to Work laws cite our First Amendment right to freedom of association (upheld by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama) as the source of the policy. They say that workers should be free to join or not join a union, and should not fear losing their job if they decide the union is not the best option for them. Another argument is that employees may not agree with the political parties or politicians that a particular union donates to, and do not want their dues going toward causes they disagree with.

On the other side, opponents say that Right to Work laws will allow a non-union employee to benefit from the collective bargaining of the union, without contributing to the union. They also argue that they will lose power and influence, and then employee wages drop and safety hazards increase. Opponents have also argued that such laws requiring workers to join a union never existed, and that Right to Work laws are redundant and anti-union.

The Libertarian Party platform ( states in section 2.7 that “We support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union.” A simple way to say this and to clarify the argument for and against the concept of Right to Work laws is that unions, employers, and employees working within a capitalist, free-market system must provide value for their goods or services or be forced to go out of business. If a union is providing adequate value to its members, then not only will they happily pay their dues, but other workers will be inclined to join as well. If a union is not providing enough value to support their dues collections, then workers will choose not to join their union and the union should go out of business. What unions seem to be asking for is governmental protection from the free labor market. They are attempting to collude with government to force workers to pay up or lose their jobs. Voluntary union membership is a fine thing. Forcing people to pay for membership to a club they do not want to join as a condition of employment is not in the best interest of freedom and liberty.

14 thoughts on “Libertarian Party of Ohio on Right to Work laws

  1. Gene Berkman

    It should be noted that The Libertarian Party has not adopted a plank in favor of Right to Work laws. This column is the opinion of the author.

  2. paulie Post author

    I did not see the author identified on the article, it is posted on their state party website and was forwarded to IPR by their state chair, so it seems that the Ohio LP has taken a position regardless of what the national party has or has not.

  3. Matt Cholko

    I like this article, and agree with most of the content.

    As a matter of principal though, I cannot agree with anything Ohio does today, as their Buckeyes crushed my Patriots yesterday.

  4. Kevin Knedler

    OSU did put in the bench players about half-way thru the 2nd quarter. If not, they would have won by 60 points. Class act with 10 seconds to go. They could have tried to score and make it 100 points, but just dribbled the ball around and left the score at 98 points.

    State Chair LPO
    OSU alumni member

  5. Gene Berkman

    Gary – thanks for finding the old platform plank. I did not have time to look, but I thought the LP platform was explicit in opposition to Right to Work laws.

  6. paulie Post author

    A breakaway faction of the Alabama LP had “party of principal” as its slogan on its website for years (and still might, for all I know). I dubbed them the “party of principal that gathers no interest.” 😛

  7. Matt Cholko

    There are lots of problems with right to work laws, but I think that the spirit of this article is that people should be free to unionize or not, and companies should be free to recognize and negotiate with those unions, or not – whenver, wherever, and however they want. We all agree on these principles, right?

  8. Matt Cholko

    I actually put that on the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia website a few years ago, when I was the webmaster. Jim Lark eventually pointed it out to me, but it was there for a while.

  9. Porn Again Christian

    I think there’s disagreement on how to apply them in the real world, though.

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