Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Right to Work

In time for Labor Day, Bonfire of the Vanities has a thoughtful post about the National Right to Work Committee, for which he worked for a time.
Often, a "Catholic" argument against Right to Work is that you have balance various goods--the good of individual workers in relation to the good of the group.

Accepting that approach for sake of argument, that would be an argument, I think, for the situation that obtains in 22 Right to Work states: unions keep their monopoly-bargaining privileges, with no-forced-dues as a corrective. Unions aren't non-existent in Right to Work states; but they are more accountable. But if you're going to commend a more pragmatic, rather than idealistic, approach, then I fail to see how that can't allow someone to embrace Right to Work on the same, pragmatic basis.

The argument is given that Right to Work will kill unions, or at least neuter them. Whether that be so is beside the point: that's just another way of saying, workers should be pressed into union affiliation because it's good for them or good for society.

The solidarity argument is a more credible one: the idea being that individual workers have some responsibility to stand in solidarity with their fellow workers. That is, indisputably, Catholic teaching.

But does it mean, for example, that one must go on strike? Or might one say, either, I disagree with this strike, in substance or in conduct; or, I have to feed my family, I must continue to work.

I invite anyone to show where the Church has ever said that a worker isn't responsible for making precisely such a choice. Likewise, a worker has the responsibility -- this is clear from papal teachings -- to discern whether the union is worthy of his affiliation. Leo XIII made this point directly: workers, you may not join the wrong sorts of unions!


Anonymous said...

I miss living in a Right to Work state. Washington has a very pro-union attitude that permeates into places that you just don't normally associate with organized labor: placards at baseball games. I've never been a pro-union kind of guy, but the more I live around here, the more I have my opinions reinforced.

Lately, one of the unions at Boeing has gone on strike. Their behavior is a bit puzzling. After looking at Boeing's "final offer," the IAM really seems to have a selfish attitude. It appears as though they are only concerned with themselves, and not the well-being of the company (including its other employees). Class warfare has found its way into the strikers' rhetoric.

Unions once served a purpose, however that day has passed. Labor conditions have improved dramatically, as well as a living wage is present. (Some of the IAM may disagree about the living wage, but do their lifestyles, including cable tv, cell phones, vacations and more fall under a the Church's idea of a just living wage? Nowadays, it seems that the unions undermine efficiency, merit-based promotion, as well as pit everyone against the rich.

I wonder how many labor unions today would fit Leo XIII's exhortation?

mrsdarwin said...

I was reading about the Boeing Machinists planning to go on strike, and I wondered if Boeing could just hire replacements from New Orleans. The Northwestern Mechanics strike is a perfect example of the folly of striking when there are other people who desperately want the same work you're doing and are willing to accept less pay.