Unions should support legislation to eliminate 'free riders'

Since Michigan passed its right-to-work law in 2012, unions have been labelling those that leave the union as “free riders.” But where unions see “free riders,” others see forced riders.


F. Vincent Vernuccio, the director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and author of “Worker’s Choice: Freeing Unions and Workers from Forced Representation,” wrote this recently in the Washinton Times.

While unions complain about free riders, they like having the condition that makes free riders possible. Unions have lobbied for a monopoly on representing all workers — even nonmembers — because it gives them a stronger hand at the bargaining table. So even a person who wishes to take advantage of a right-to-work law is still a forced rider, or as unions put it, a free rider.

There is a better way.

The solution to the free/forced rider problem is not to require payments to unions; it is “Worker’s Choice,” letting workers represent themselves, while also freeing unions from having to support nonmembers.

Under current laws, Worker’s Choice is not a possibility. Private sector workers must wait for Congress to act. But for the public sector, states have the power to free both employees and government unions from forced representation.

Legislation has been introduced in the Michigan legislature by Rep. Gary Glenn that would benefit both unions and workers. This legislation would give workers two options: stay a paying member and receive representation or exercise your right-to-work rights, operate without a union contract, and find your own representation.

Vernuccio continues:

If unions are truly worried about free riders, as they claim, then Worker’s Choice is the answer.

While it is, in fact, unfair for unions to be required to bargain for those not paying them (ignoring the fact that they fought for the monopoly to represent everyone) it is more unfair to force workers to pay for unwanted services.

Thankfully those are not the only two options.The better way is to allow unions to say “goodbye” to workers who do not want to pay and workers to say “no thanks” to unwanted representation.

Michigan lawmakers would do public sector workers and unions a favor by passing Worker’s Choice legislation.


**If you like this post, consider sharing it on social media and subscribing to our email updates.**

Join the Frontlines

Subscribe to receive email updates!