There’s been a lot of fuss recently from respected libertarian thinkers like J.D. Tuccille and Jonathan Adler about whether or not right to work laws are libertarian. They are offensive to the principle of freedom of contract, the argument goes, and so no right-thinking free marketeer should support them.
Up to a point, Lord Copper. Tuccille and co. are right that they are offensive to freedom of contract. Should an employer so wish, he should be able to enter in to an exclusive negotiating arrangement with a union and require that all his or her employees join that union if they want to have a job at that company.
So far so good. Yet the possibility of such arrangement does not exist. The default position of federal labor law is that if a union gains a simple majority of votes cast in a workplace (50 percent plus one), it is authorized as the exclusive bargaining representative for all workers in that bargaining unit, including those who voted against the union. This is also demonstrably unlibertarian.