What is Freedom to Work?


A committee of the Missouri House of Representatives will hear The Freedom to Work Act (aka Right to Work bill) on Monday, the 13th of January, 2014.

Freedom to Work or Right to Work, at its heart, is the freedom to engage in voluntary exchange. It is the exchange of one’s labor for compensation, without unjust force or coercion. These unjust forces include governmental restrictions or requirements that grant undue influence to one or more of the parties to the exchange.

Federal labor law, notably the Wagner Act and the Taft-Hartley Act, is a prime example of using the force of law to exert undue and unjust influence on the free and voluntary exchange of labor for compensation.

This exchange is no different from any other exchange, whether it is money for food, a Ford, or the exchange of a “promise to pay” for a loan. All exchanges should be free of the unjust interference of law.

To show how federal labor law unduly and unjustly influences exchanges that would otherwise be voluntary, let me demonstrate with a little example of an exchange involving money and food, accomplished under the same type of federal influences to the exchange transaction. This example illustrates how labor law gives workers or their unions additional leverage over employers with requirements to negotiate demands and the deleterious effects of strikes on business.

Let’s assume that you go to your local supermarket, fill your shopping cart with all your favorites, including some perishable foods, like lobster. When it comes your turn in the checkout line you proclaim, “I want to buy these items, but I refuse to pay the sticker price and instead demand a fifteen percent discount.” Under natural contract law the supermarket would have the right to ask you to give up the cart and leave the store. But, using federal labor law parameters, the supermarket could still refuse to sell the items at the demanded discount; however, you, using the example of Federal labor law to your benefit, could reply: “You don’t have to sell these groceries to me, but you can’t sell them to anyone else as long as I stand here and hold onto this cart.” Now assume that you are the supermarket. With a long line of unhappy customers waiting at the checkout station, as well as the possibility of spoiled lobster, would you grant the discount and attempt to mitigate the revenue loss or risk the smelly alternatives? How would such a preposterous law be JUST? It wouldn’t. Federal labor law is no different.

Federal labor law not only unjustly influences all parties to organized labor agreements; it unduly restricts the rights of states to govern in the area of labor law, with one exception: states may support voluntary exchange by prohibiting compulsory unionism.

I believe that in order to achieve total and complete freedom with regard to labor agreements that all federal labor law must be repealed or nullified.  The adoption of a statute that prohibits compulsory unionism in Missouri is a partial remedy toward that end. The House Committee on Workforce Development should move House Bill 1099 forward.

Bruce Hillis

Bruce Hillis 


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