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Collective Bargaining Revisited – Right or Privilege?

We couldn’t let this one go by unchallenged, even though it might ruffle a few feathers in union shops around the country. The New York Times conducted a recent poll that concluded 60% of Americans did not want the collective bargaining “rights” of unions taken away. The exact wording of the question is included below:

Collective bargaining refers to negotiations between an employer and a labor union’s members to determine the conditions of employment. Some states are trying to take away some collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Do you favor or oppose taking away some collective bargaining rights of the unions?

This is one of the most loaded questions we’ve seen in a while. Do you see what’s wrong with it? How about this? Collective bargaining is a privilege, not a right. Exactly where in the constitution does it guarantee employees the right to assail their employers en masse in pursuit of a sweeter deal?

Where? Nowhere! Mixing and matching the terms “right” and “privilege” is quite an ingenious way for the mainstream media to further their own ends. The NYT question was obviously painstakingly composed by class warfare specialists intent on demonizing the notions of capitalism and a free market. You have a right to vote. You also have a right to peaceably assemble. These are found in the constitution. Collective bargaining is a privilege that has been granted by various courts throughout the land.

Keep in mind a privilege is something that can be taken away, while a right is eternal.

We have our own severe reservations about the usefulness of collective bargaining, but that’s not even the Big Point here. The Big Point is that too many union members are putting the entire integrity of their working and retirement life in the hands of someone else. Do you REALLY trust someone else to do what is best for YOU and YOUR family? We don’t. Especially in a world where state and local governments are coming to the stark realization that they can’t honor the promises made in bargaining agreements.

What happens when the retirement checks stop coming because your employer is bankrupt? That’s when you’re really going to wish you had taken your future in your own two hands and learned how to steadily and conservatively create the kind of financial independence that relies on the promises of no one.

The Heroic Investing Team







(Flickr / Kheel Center, Cornell University)


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