Are You a Freeloader?

Yesterday, Jon Delano of KDKA Pittsburgh asked the question: Could Pennsylvania be next for right-to-work legislation?  As you know from the lessons learned from Michigan’s recent passage of worker freedom legislation, Pennsylvania’s prospects are more encouraging now more than ever.

But that’s not what union bosses want you to hear.  Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers says that hardworking men and women that don’t think their union representation is worth the dues they pay are “freeloaders.”

“The benefits that come from health care, maybe life insurance, in a collective agreement – the freeloader in right to work gets to have that representation and not participate in the financial structure that allows us to have that voice at work,” Gerard said.

Is this true? Are non-union members that work in a business that has a union freeloading off their union colleagues?

The freeloader—or “free-rider”—problem is an issue only if unions have to represent all the workers in a particular bargaining unit, even the non-members.  If you give workers their constitutional freedom not to join a union, they should be allowed to represent themselves.  The free rider problem is solved by relieving unions of their “duty” to represent non-members.

As it is, forcing workers to pay for the “benefit” they receive is only necessary when workers don’t actually think they are getting any benefit—or at least not as great a benefit as they will be forced to pay.  Giving workers freedom to choose whether or not they want union representation makes the union more accountable, and more valuable, to their members.