Last year I wrote a post entitled The Employer's Bill of Rights. It remains one of the
most read and most commented-upon posts in the five-year history of this blog.
In that post, I argued that employers need certain protections from the litany
of workplace rights enjoyed by employees. Many of those employee rights fall
under the umbrella of "protected classes" - race, sex, pregnancy, national
origin, religion, age, disability, genetic information, and (in Ohio, at least)
Last Wednesday, I came across an op-ed in The New York
Times entitled, A Civil Right to Unionize. In this article, Richard
Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit opine that Title VII needs to be updated to include
"the right to unionize" as a protected civil right:
In fact, the greatest impediment to unions is weak and
anachronistic labor laws. It's time to add the right to organize a labor union,
without employer discrimination, to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act....
Our proposal would make disciplining or firing an
employee "on the basis of seeking union membership" illegal just as it now is
on the basis of race, color, sex, religion and national origin.
Have I missed something? Isn't it already illegal to
discriminate against employees because of their union support? Indeed, it's
right there, in black and white, in the National
Labor Relations Act:
8(a)(3): It shall be an unfair labor practice for an
employer ... by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any
term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any
With apologies to union supporters, there is no reality
in which "unionism" exists on the same level as race, sex, disability, or the
other protected classes. The "greatest impediment" to unions isn't "weak and
anachronistic labor laws." It's intelligent and strong-willed employees who
understand that whatever benefit they might receive from a labor union is not
worth the dues that come out of their paychecks.
And, the reality is that despite all of this pro-union
rhetoric, labor unions are doing just fine without any additional help. Unions
win more than two-thirds of representation elections. All this proposal does
is increase the burden for employers, without providing any appreciable benefit
to employees - which is why I feel comfortable asking if this proposal is the
worst idea ever.
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