In Ohio Senator Shannon Jones has introduced a bill
to prohibit the state and state employees and state institutions of higher education and their employees from collectively bargaining, to abolish salary schedules for public employees and instead require merit pay, and to make various other changes to the Collective Bargaining Law.(H/T Mike Shedlock who discusses it here.)
Currently the one paragraph bill is a placeholder and the details are yet to be ironed out, but its specific targeting of 'collective bargaining' is significant.
Here in my state, Californians for Public Union Reform have recently filed with the state its intent to back a ballot measure to (according to its Treasurer Lanny Ebenstein) "end collective bargaining for all city, county, regional and state employees in California". According to the linked article Virginia and North Carolina already forbid collective bargaining for state employees and Wisconsin is considering the same (in addition to the effort in Ohio described above).
While many of the anti-union efforts are commendable, abolishing 'collective bargaining' is exactly the right approach. Let me explain.
'Collective bargaining' is not what its name indicates (hence the scare quotes). It is not bargaining. In fact it means exactly the opposite of what you'd guess. Collective bargaining refers to the obligation of an employer to recognize the elected representatives of a group of workers and his further obligation to negotiate with those representatives. This last part is what makes 'collective bargaining' extortion. Under collective bargaining laws, employers have to recognize an elected union and have to negotiate with them, i.e. employers are forbidden from firing their unionized employees. Under threat of fine, confiscation and/or police occupation. But a negotiation that doesn't allow one party to walk away from the table and say 'no' is not bargaining. If this kind of 'bargaining' reigned in normal society, then anyone responding to a craigslist ad would have the 'right' to purchase despite not making an offer the seller likes. If the purchaser insisted, the seller would have to continue 'bargaining' with purchaser until he got tired of it and sold at a personal loss. In the same way employers are obliged to keep on employees who's salaries or benefits they consider a loss to their company. Collective bargaining is in fact union extortion.
Should employees have the right to associate, form unions, strike, quit work? Emphatically Yes! Even state employees. But on their own time, in their own homes using their own computers and phones to communicate. These are individual rights and constitutionally protected. For the same reasons employers should have the right to fire any individual, group or all of their employees. If a group of employees organizes and decides to demand improved work conditions or higher salaries or juicy retirement benefits, they have the right to do so. And the employer has the right to grant their demands or refuse them. The employees can then quit and oblige the employer to replace them. But there's no moral or logical justification to compel the employer to continue negotiating with them if they couldn't arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution voluntarily. He has the moral right to walk away, to fire them all, just like they have the right to quit en mass. It is after all his property and he has the right to dispose of it as he pleases. And that's what 'collective bargaining' laws forbid.
Imagine if the tables were turned and employers had the right to 'employer bargaining' with employees, under which the employer could demand whatever pay reductions or workday increases he wanted, employees had to negotiate with the employer and employees couldn't quit! This could only be classified as slavery. The right to terminate the employer-employee relationship is a fundamental right of both employer and employee. The right to quit is equivalent to the right to fire. If its clear that employees have the right to quit their employment, then it should be clear that employers have the right to fire their employees. Employment should be mutually beneficial to employer and employee and open to termination by either when it becomes non-beneficial (limited of course by any voluntary contractual agreements).
Collective bargaining laws have achieved two things for unions and union members. First the negotiations strongly tend in one direction, to the (short-term) benefit of the unionized workers (until their employer moves his operations offshore). This ratcheting is inevitable given that employers are forbidden their ultimate tool: terminating employment. Second the misnamed 'collective bargaining' has given an aura of moral righteousness to the unions, who pretend to be fighting for true American values like the freedom of association. But they are not, they are fighting for values quite foreign to America, values that come from Marxist collectivism, i.e. the expropriation of the property of employers and the negation of their rights.
Unions deserve neither benefit from 'collective bargaining', neither the salaries and pensions nor the moral high ground. Take it from them. Contact your representatives and urge them to fight collective bargaining. Support the ballot initiatives when they appear.