The free market works. The top safest, most prosperous nations in the world employ some variant of a free market system, and the United States’s success is often held up as symbol of the success made possible by economic liberty. However, there are a few flies in the soup of American prosperity, one of which is federal labor regulation.
What’s wrong with federal labor law?
The regulations surrounding labor enacted in the 1930s before and as part of the New Deal are far too many to summarize here, but include provisions such as wage and overtime requirements. Most importantly, they include a plethora of strict rules regarding collective bargaining and union power. While many of these infringe on the right of employers and employees to make whatever arrangements they see fit, the worst part is mandatory union membership. This is bad for businesses because it limits hiring arrangements that may be necessary for the company’s business model, such as keeping costs low by hiring inexperienced, elderly, or disabled workers in order to keep prices low (Walmart, for example, which actually shut down a store to avoid unionization in order to preserve their model). It can be even worse for workers, who can be forced to pay dues, face layoffs or hiring freezes by an employer no longer able to afford to pay them under new conditions, or be forced to support and contribute to political causes that they may personally find reprehensible.
Unfortunately, if you live in one of 22 US states that have not enacted right-to-work laws, forced unionization passed down from the federal government is a sad reality. Fortunately, there’s a few potential ways of dealing with this issue.