For some reason, many people think that they are entitled to things in so-called “public transactions” that they would never consider themselves to be entitled to in “private transactions”. Collective bargaining is one such “entitlement”.
What is collective bargaining? In today’s context, collective bargaining is the right of workers to unionize and force employers to deal with them.
In our personal lives, we would never consider collective bargaining as a right. In fact, we would consider it ludicrous. Imagine, if you will, that your elderly neighbor hires you and a few other unemployed neighbors to help him with his yard work. He offers to pay each of you $8 per hour.
Being unemployed, you are fine with that, but a progressive-minded neighbor declares that this is a slave wage, and he convinces the others that they are entitled to a minimum “living wage” of $12 per hour plus health insurance. They vote on it, and agree to form a Neighbor’s Yard Helpers Union. They present their demands to the elderly neighbor, who scoffs at their demands and tells them to get the hell off his property. You and a few of your friends offer to do his yard work at his originally offered wage of $8 per hour, to which he gladly agrees.
The next day, when you and your friends arrive at his door, the Neighbor’s Yard Helpers Union shows up with a court order instructing the elderly neighbor that he may not hire non-unionized labor for his yard, and that he must sit down and negotiate with the new union. When you and your friends ignore this court order and start to go to work, the union workers start yelling at you, threaten to ruff you up, and picket outside the elderly neighbor’s yard, disrupting the peace of what once was a quiet neighborhood. Then, the police show up and take you, your friends, and the elderly neighbor to jail for ignoring the court order.
Now if this sounds ridiculous to you, then why should it not sound ridiculous if we simply increase the number of people involved? The answer is that it shouldn’t. Citizen’s right to freedom of association do not disappear when the number of people involved hits some arbitrarily defined number like 10, or 100, or 1000.
Employers, who have the same political rights as workers, have no obligation to accept the demands of workers with whom they disagree. If freedom means anything, it includes the right to make an offer to your fellow citizens, who have the right to accept your offer, or reject it and go their own way. Under no case in a free society, does one group of citizens have the right to impose upon their neighbors some majority determined demands that their neighbors are not free to accept or reject.
And the fact that the majority group is able to get the government to impose their demands on the minority group does not make their demands “rights”. America is not based upon the principle of unlimited majority rule. It is based upon the principle of individual rights, in which freedom of speech, religion, press, association, and property are equal freedoms of each individual citizen.
Rights are not whatever the government declares that you are entitled to. Rights are objective political principles which define and sanction individual freedom of action in a social context.