The Indiana legislature recently approved a “right to work” law, the 23rd of its kind in the United States.
A “union shop” agreement between an employer and a union commits the employer to ensuring that new hires join the union within a specified period. Right-to-work laws ban union-shop agreements.
Let’s put it another way: They violate freedom of contract.
If employers choose to conclude union-shop contracts with unions, what gives the Indiana legislature the right to interfere?
Employers own the wages they will pay and the sites where work will be performed under such contracts. So it’s their right to dispense the wages and make the sites available specifically to union members, just as it’s their right, more generally, to trade with anyone they choose.
When a legislature interferes with voluntary employment contracts, it infringes people’s freedom to bargain with their own labor and possessions. Treating this kind of interference as acceptable means licensing arbitrary interventions into the market by politicians, who are ill-equipped to second-guess the decisions made by the real people making work agreements with one another.