Worker’s Choice Solves Free-/Forced-Rider Problem in Wisconsin

Vernuccio op-ed explains idea in national publications

When a Wisconsin judge struck down the state’s right-to-work law April 8, he relied on the false argument that giving employees the ability to work without the fear of being fired for not belonging to a union creates a “free-rider” problem.

As the Mackinac Center’s Director of Labor Policy F. Vincent Vernuccio explained in an op-ed published in both the National Review and The Washington Times, the real issue is that even in right-to-work states, those who work in unionized shops have no choice but to do so under terms negotiated by unions. Unions have long lobbied for the monopoly they have on representing all workers, even those who opt not to belong, and now accuse them of being “free riders.”

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Vernuccio said such workers are actually forced riders because they are not permitted to represent themselves in contract negotiations and must accept whatever the union offers. Giving workers a choice would eliminate this problem for both unions and workers.

With Worker’s Choice, unionized employees would truly have an option. They could stay a member of the union, pay and receive representation, or they could act like the nearly 88 percent of workers in the country who work without a union contract.

These employees could negotiate agreements that are tailored to their own needs rather than be shoehorned into a one-size-fits-all union contract. A worker could negotiate a merit pay deal that rewards his or her extra efforts and results, benefiting the employer as well with a more productive employee. Unions, by contrast generally prefer that raises be given out strictly on the basis of seniority.

Worker’s Choice would give employees who get into trouble at work the freedom to represent themselves in the most effective manner. Most union contracts require workers in disciplinary proceedings or other dealings with their employer to go through the union.

Rep. Gary Glenn has introduced a version of Worker’s Choice in the Michigan Legislature and it may be on the ballot in Oregon.

Read the full op-ed at the National Review or The Washington Times.

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