Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Should union organizing be a civil right?

Big Labor in the United States has been on the wane for decades. About 6.7 percent of American private-sector workers belonged to a union in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics. Public-sector union membership topped 35.3 percent.

Democrats in Congress would like to change that. A bill by Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, and John Lewis, D-Georgia, would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to make labor organizing a “fundamental right.” They argue that the law should make it easier for workers to band together against unfair treatment from employers.

Is the Ellison-Lewis legislation a way to level the free-speech playing field against corporations? Or would the law coerce workers into joining unions whether they like it or not? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the Red-Blue America columnists, weigh in.

Joel Mathis

Before we answer the question of whether union organizing should be covered as a First Amendment civil right, let’s consider who has seen such rights affirmed or expanded in recent years.

  • Corporations. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, corporations are now guaranteed the First Amendment “free speech” right to spend as much as they want to influence political campaigns. The ruling triggered a fierce backlash, but it remains in effect.
  • Hobby Lobby. The craft store may not have a soul of its own, but it is free to ignore federal laws that conflict with its owners’ religious beliefs, including the mandate that employers offer birth control as part of any health insurance plan they offer employees.
  • The rich. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down limits on how much an individual can spend during a campaign cycle, deeming the previous $123,000 limit an infringement on America’s essential freedoms.

What, exactly, would be the justification for leaving union organizers off this list? Aside, of course, from naked partisanship and class warfare waged from above.

Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit originated the idea of treating unionization as a civil right several years ago in a New York Times op-ed.

“Some might argue that the Civil Rights Act should be limited to discrimination based on immutable characteristics like race or national origin, not acts of volition,” they wrote. “But the act already protects against religious discrimination. Some local civil rights statutes even cover marital status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, or place of residence or business.”

Corporations, in the end, are groups of individuals who have banded together for a specific purpose — usually profit. Unions are the same thing. They deserve the same rights as their richer colleagues. Of course union organizing is a civil right.

Ben Boychuk

Obviously union organizing is a First Amendment right. We can argue whether public-sector workers should be unionized, but nobody today disputes that private-sector employees have a right to form or join a labor union.

Freedom of assembly should be free. Shouldn’t that be indisputable, too?

Unions aren’t especially interested in workers freely choosing to join their ranks and pay dues. With membership dwindling and the legal tide turning, they need government protection to remain viable. The “civil right” labor organizers seek is really a new right to coerce workers into membership whether they want it or not.

It’s not as though unions don’t have extensive legal rights and protections right now. The National Labor Relations Act effectively enshrined the right to collective bargaining 79 years ago. Subsequent laws exempted unions from most trespassing and anti-monopoly laws, as well as whistleblower protections.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Enmons decision even carved out a union exception from federal racketeering and extortion laws. Incredibly, five justices endorsed the view that economic gain through violence is permissible when unions seek “legitimate” objectives. Thousands of acts of union thuggery, intimidation and assault have gone unpunished as a result.

Liberals appear happy to endorse the principle of freedom of association until it runs afoul of their more beloved shibboleths. Then a corporation such as Hobby Lobby – for which exactly no one is compelled to work – becomes Public Enemy No. 1. Then a court decision like Citizens United – which, contra President Barack Obama, did not undo “a century of law” – becomes the worst assault on American democracy since Dred Scott.

Truth is, labor unions are failing the basic test of survival in the marketplace of ideas. Workers are no longer buying what Big Labor is selling.

Freedom of workers to organize? More like freedom of unions to extract more dues. This isn’t about civil rights – it’s a license to commit extortion.

Ben Boychuk (bboychuk@city-journal.org) is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Joel Mathis (joelmmathis@gmail.com) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine. Visit them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/benandjoel.

Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 11 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • DanielAugust 01, 2014 - 6:43 am

    Workers should have a civil right not to forced to join organizations nor have a chunk of their check be forcibly absconded

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • truth'nAugust 01, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Daniel, that right is already in place. There is no such thing as a "closed shop". No one is forced to join a union except by other members pressure. More people need to be aware of this and exercise this right. Unions are nothing but another business. Union members take note: You CBA is between the "company" & "union", Your Name is not in it anywhere. Do not be fooled, the "union" protects only those it chooses.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 01, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    No one is forced to take a job at a union shop "Daniel". Move along with this ridiculous victimhood mentality.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Anne GriffinAugust 01, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    Unfortunately, Daniel, there is no such civil right, at least for public school teachers. Of the over 1,000 public school districts in California, there were fewer than 6 several years ago that were not union. Teachers can refuse to join, but if their district is union, then they must pay dues anyway. That is my case and you can read my comments following.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 01, 2014 - 8:31 am

    Union organizing is not a civil right in Wisconsin and many other states. There needs to be federal legislation.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagAugust 01, 2014 - 11:52 am

    Truth, are you talking about a right to work state when you say ( No one is forced to join a union except by other members pressure) If so California and many other states are not among those and if you accept a union job you join or you don't work?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Anne GriffinAugust 01, 2014 - 1:23 pm

    As a teacher in the Vallejo City Unified School District, I am forced to pay dues to a union that I refuse to join. I don't want to join them because I saw firsthand the lies and manipulation by the teachers' union that went on when I was a school board member here in Fairfield. I do, however request every year that the union refund my money that is used for political purposes, which amounts to $350-400. I have to do this every year in order to get back my money. I'm appalled that I should have to do that just to get my money back! I'm sure most teachers don't bother with that, since the union already has their money. A statewide reform that was on the ballot a few years back was trying to address the issue, but of course, the powerful CTA (teachers' union) fought it tooth and nail. I think if someone wants to join a union, there is nothing that should stop them. It seems unfair, though that if someone doesn't want to join, they are forced to still pay dues. I understand the unions feel entitled to rake in my dues every year, since they "fought" for my benefits, etc., however they are not entitled to use my money for political purposes. Unions have served a purpose in helping many people, but they have also contributed to the economic collapse in recent years. High cost of living is directly tied to high cost of labor. Just ask anyone left in Detroit (my birthplace) what the unions have done to the once proud auto industry.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Anne GriffinAugust 01, 2014 - 1:34 pm

    I also wanted to add that I pay over $1,000 every year in dues to the teachers' unions (NEA, CTA, VEA). It's my money, why do I have to give it to an organization I don't want to join?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 01, 2014 - 3:57 pm

    How did unions "contribute to the economic collapse of recent years?" Were they responsible for the corruption and/or incompetence of the bond rating companies? Or for the predatory practices of Goldman Sachs?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 01, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    Your total silence on taking every benefit the union offers employees and how it likely is worth much more than just 1000 buck per year is just more telling about yourself than unions.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Logue wins US Chamber of Commerce support

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

 
Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 35 Comments | Gallery

 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 2 Comments | Gallery

Families Helping Families preps for holidays

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Charity Tree Auction application deadline nears

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Tots can trick-or-treat at Solano Town Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Car washes raising money to fight breast cancer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Fairfield Police Department promotes 2, honors 1

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
2 new challenges part of 2014 Solano Turkey Trot

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Suisun council splits on housing element changes

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
Solano names new First 5 director

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A6

 
$1.4M land sale by Fairfield gets OK

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6

Action, thriller movies headed to box office

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

FBI: Denver girls may have tried to join jihadis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
IS fighters seize weapons cache meant for Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Assad pursues withering campaign against rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
7 arrested in Oakland raid on Black Muslim Temple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Stinky seaweed piling up at upscale Laguna Beach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Golden Gate Bridge officials float sidewalk toll

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

5 Jonestown victims buried in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
New rules adopted in hopes of spurring home loans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

California man goes missing during road trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
2nd guilty plea in California tainted beef case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Pakistani Nobel laureate honored in Philadelphia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Cadaver dog searches in suspected serial killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Schools scoured in search for ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

AP-GfK Poll: Most expect GOP victory in November

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Freed Vietnamese dissident travels to US: official

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

North Korea frees US man; 2 more still detained

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
US expands Ebola checks; Rwanda to check Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

WHO: Ebola vaccine trials in W. Africa in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Brown meets with health care experts about Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Opinion

Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

 
‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Expect voter participation to drop

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

 

PUC chief: Likely 1st test for new Brown term

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial Cartoons: Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 11 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Is it OK for a business to use its contacts to raise money for a charity?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

Hummus and chocolate together? Deliciously so!

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Easy slow cooker chili that lives up to the hype

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Roasted beets can brighten up any holiday table

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Argentina demands ‘Top Gear’ apology from BBC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ fans push for Coulson/May romance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
From Kors to DVF, fashion mourns de la Renta

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Sports

Bruins hold off Sharks to win 5-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local report: Vikings earn 3-0 SCAC volleyball win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

SJS releases season’s first wins list

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bumgarner, Giants stop Royals 7-1 in Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

For a young Mexican golf star, seeing helps him believe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Shaw shoulders blame for Stanford’s slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Newman dodges penalty for Talladega inspection

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano: No worries about retaliation from Patrick

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fighters suing Mayweather over Vegas cable TV bout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WS Game 2 starters Ventura, Peavy study in contrasts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hats off! Royals get old-timey with tip o’ the hat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

KC, San Fran mayors announce World Series wager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Ezeli returns as Warriors beat Clippers 125-107

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Buster’s back: Posey tries to add 3rd Series ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
AP sources: Rice’s appeal hearing set for Nov. 5-6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Kings GM: NHL should educate after Voynov’s arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Broncos are still No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius gets 5 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Google’s streaming music service adds mood to mix

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
5 problems McDonald’s is facing in the US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

New efforts to ban tobacco farm child labor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Total CEO killed in Moscow runway crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

China economy grows at slowest pace in 5 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Rufina Ferrer Levengood

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6