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John Hayward, in Human Events Online, takes Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson to task for his failure to distinguish between coercion and voluntarism. Even Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, which later merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to become the AFL-CIO, understood the difference.
An unhappy Harold Meyerson, writing for the Washington Post, took a pair of recent Supreme Court rulings as evidence the conservative wing of the Supreme Court has declared class-based warfare upon the Little Guy – by which Meyerson means left-wing unionized Little Guys, of course. The two decisions he takes issue with are Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, and of course Citizens United, whose name is now burned into the fevered brows of many a liberal.
What really angered Meyerson was Justice Alito’s further ruling, writing for the majority, that unions “may not exact any funds from nonmembers without their affirmative consent,” because “individuals should not be compelled to subsidize private groups or private speech.”
Here’s the party Meyerson is missing: the relationship between workers and employers is voluntary, while unions are coercive. A union is what liberals would otherwise be eager to describe as a “monopoly.” If you don’t live in a right-to-work state – and Meyerson regards those as hell-holes, because he frets that the Supreme Court “came close to nationalizing the right-to-work laws that 23 states have adopted” – you cannot decide you don’t like working for the UAW or AFSCME and “quit” your “job” with them. You can’t find another union you like better, or decide you don’t like belonging to a union at all.
If liberals are reluctant to discuss the true value of all political speech, preferring to focus only on transactions in which someone wearing a power tie signs a big check, they’re absolutely terrified of discussing the value of coercion, which the modern labor union is heavily dependent upon. They’ll even write silly op-eds for the Washington Post in which they pretend coercion doesn’t exist at all.
Human Events Online, June 26, 2012