By DARIN GILLEY
UAW Local 2250
Free stuff is great. Many of us have an annoying relative that comes to family events, loads up on whatever fare is offered and exclaims “there is no food like free food!” Governor Greitens and the Missouri legislature would like to force every workplace in the state to cater to those individuals.
Enacting “right-to-work” allows workers to take union representation and benefits without paying for them. This would not be a serious problem if the union could provide services only to those who paid for them. Unfortunately, this Missouri law does not relieve unions of their responsibility under federal law to represent all members. Even those who don’t pay for services received them.
What if we applied this approach to other areas of the economy?
How about applying this to country clubs? If I was looking for a country club, my preference would be to look for one that the members had made nice enough to be worth visiting. Similar to the way a job seeker may prefer a work opportunity with good pay and benefits that had developed over years of collective bargaining.
Luckily, I found such a club not too far from my house. I arrived with my golf clubs, talked the manager into running a tab, and headed out to the course.
After 18 holes of quality golf, it was time to head for the 19th hole to celebrate my round. Similar to the way a newly-hired worker might celebrate the first paycheck.
One of the benefits of such a nice club was the pub and grill. I took advantage of this perk and put a steak, potato, salad and a couple of beverages on my tab. This would be similar to a member using his union-negotiated health insurance.
With my hunger satiated, it was time for a sauna. This was something extra not available at every country club. Much like a grievance procedure and only being disciplined “for cause” are hallmarks of a unionized facility.
As the day was nearing an end, I headed out to my truck. The club manager raced toward me waving a bill for the golf (pay), food and drink (benefits), and sauna (union rights).
Of course, using the same approach as proponents of “right-to-work” that call the ability to avoid responsibility for services received “worker freedom”, I stated my reluctance to pay the bill as an example of my “customer freedom.” Then, citing the work of Governor Greitens and the Missouri legislature, invoked my Right-to-Country Club!
NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH
The club manager was upset and asked how I expected the club to keep its doors open for all the members if folks didn’t pay for what they use? Didn’t I understand that the current members had invested their time, money and effort into making this club something all members could enjoy? Of all the clubs out there, why did I have to choose this one to take all the benefits and then yell “freedom”? He then said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
A free lunch is what “right-to-work” codifies into law. “Right-to-work” targets only unions as an organization that must provide services without compensation. If the legislature insists on trying to defy the aphorism that “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” it should do so across all organizations.
Most union contracts have a section titled “Equal Application.” This language helps defend against favoritism, targeting, and selective enforcement of policy. The people of Missouri look to the legislature to govern in a manner that is of, by and for the people. This includes the practice of Equal Protection under the Law. The concepts of equality, fairness and responsibility are central to a functioning society.
“Right-to-work” is a violation of the concept of Equal Application and fails the test of Equal Protection and good governance in the State of Missouri.