Union strikes as a property rights issue.

  • Posted on: 14 December 2012
  • By: Gene Balfour

One of our Facebook readers was confused about how union strikes as a property rights issue.  Here is how I see it.... 

All successful businesses [aka 'employers']  require, among other things, labour in order to produce the goods and/or services that generate business revenues. To acquire this labour, they create jobs and run employment competitions to find and hire the "best fit" job candidates at free market prices. These jobs are the property of the business owner as is the money from which wages are paid.

Individual workers, that are hired by the employer without union representation, are free to negotiate the terms of employment in exchange  for their time, skills, knowledge and talents. In the job market,  workers with the best qualifications and employment track record are generally able to negotiate and retain higher compensation levels that their less skilled coworkers.

Unions create a 'labour monopoly' within business enterprises by: requiring all workers to become a union member as a condition of employment; AND eliminating worker competition by imposing restrictions on the employer that only union members can work for that employer. I like to refer to these perverse, state-endowed union bargaining advantages as the BABOR [Blackmailers' Bill of Rights]. 

"Collective bargaining" changes labour negotiation dynamics from one-on-one negotiations [ point #2 above]to one-on-many "negotiations" with 'labour monopoly' advantages [point #3] going to the union. The threat of a strike or work slowdown is, in essence, blackmail. It is another way of saying: "you meet our demands, or we will shut down your business." 

All businesses create, acquire, build and own many assets which fall under many asset classes. These include: company brand [reputation], intellectual property [examples - business strategy;  product designs; patents], existing customers & and contracts to provided products or services to those customers as defined by these contracts;  retained earnings; machinery; Information Technology investments; employment benefits agreements with group insurance providers; salary grids; and even the individual jobs/job descriptions. 

If a strike or work slowdown, organized by a union, inflicts  property damage to any of the business' asset classes, this is no different than if the union's members were to collectively embezzle funds or to set the work premises on fire.  Propert damage is property damage no matter how it is perpetrated. 

Even if a collective bargaining agreement has expired, the only way that an employer can avoid finding itself on the receiving end of union blackmail is be removing the labour monopoly. If the employer were free to hire anyone at any time, union member or otherwise, then the union's BABOR would lose its sting at negotiations.  In addition, non-union workers would regain their "Right to Work" without union interference - a win-win for everyone.