Posts Tagged ‘unions’

Could freelance writers offer a promising future for unions?

January 10, 2012

I suspect not. The freelance market is fierce, and for a paper to be forced to bargain, a union would have to convince a widely-dispersed, unorganized group of individuals to join its cause. Currently, the National Writers Union (which is an affiliate of the United Auto Workers!) is only about 1,300 strong.

Let me explain:

Many papers, especially weeklies such as Isthmus, draw upon a large group of freelancers to produce regular articles. While it’s convenient for a paper to have a group of regular contributors whose work it can depend on, if the regular contributors demanded higher pay, the paper could probably function for a period of time with outside contributors, even if that meant a little extra work for editors or even lower quality. The damage would probably not equal that incurred by a factory if a large number of its workers walked out on the job.

As a result, the freelancers union advocates for its members differently than traditional unions. Whereas the chief goal for most unions is to bring collective bargaining to a workplace, the NWU is more of an advocacy organization that aids individual writers in understanding contracts, filing grievances against papers over backpay and providing health care options for freelancers.

Ron Paul’s big government position on right-to-work

December 29, 2011

To libertarians like Ron Paul, respect for private property and legal contracts is the only governance a society needs. For instance:

Should businesses be allowed to discriminate against customers based on race?

Of course. The owner is within his rights as a property owner to only admit his racial brethren, and for the government to require him to do otherwise is a violation of the holiest of a civilized society’s principles. Paul explains in his 2004 speech on the House floor decrying the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society.

Given that reasoning, shouldn’t we assume that Paul would also support the rights of businesses to enter into contracts with unions that require workers to pay union dues? From his website:

While Ron Paul supports the right of every American to join a private sector union if they wish, he believes, like most Americans, that forcing workers to pay union dues just to get or keep a job is wrong.

Unfortunately, over 75 years ago, the right to decide freely whether or not to join a labor union was taken away from American workers by Congress.

 Ron Paul’s exceptional record on Right to Work issues earned him the prestigious Everett Dirksen Award from the National Right to Work Committee.

At the very least, Paul’s position on right-to-work is anti-libertarian because it advocates the government outlaw a type of contract between individuals. To outlaw businesses from entering into certain contracts with unions is no different than outlawing sex contracts between a prostitute and a client or outlawing the sale of drugs, both positions that Paul vehemently opposes.

Free speech victory in the Badger State

July 16, 2009

We used to be called “Squeaky Clean Wisconsin.” A 1970 review of the Wisconsin legislature called Wisconsin one of the most transparent and modernized state governments in America. So it was encouraging to see that the tradition will continue with the latest Supreme Court ruling.

Although you may soon no longer be able to text message while you drive, you will be able to have access to the names of state employees, whether or not they are members of unions. In a 6-1 decision, the state supreme court ruled in favor of a newspaper attempting to get the records and names of certain state employees.

However, the Court did not assert that the Doyle administration’s attempt to hide the names of state workers was unconstitutional, as many open government advocates would like to believe. It simply said that because the Open Records Act had not been amended to create an exemption for state workers, they were still subject to the law.

The issue at the origin of the case was, like many in Wisconsin, drunk driving. The Journal-Sentinel had requested a list of employees who are no longer allowed to drive state vehicles. The idea, I assume, was to see if the state’s “prohibited list” matched up with drunk driving records. In a separate request, the Lakeland Times asked to see the salaries of employees in the Dept. of Natural Resources.

It touched a soft spot when George Stanley, managing editor of the Journal-Sentinel, cited the taxpayer’s right to know how much corrections officers are making in overtime pay. True muckraking about the prison system in this state would be humiliating for legislators, unions and prison contractors. As well as for the last three governors of the state.