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Freedom of association and its enemies (opinion)

By ThisIsReno
Published: Last Updated on

Submitted by Norm Robins

I have to tell you a story. A long, long time ago when I was a college student in Chicago I drove a taxicab during one summer break. In order to get the job I had to join the Teamsters’ Union. In those days the union was called the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Warehousemen, and Garage Mechanics.

The union was headed by Joey Glimco, also a Mafia don and a close associate and pal of Jimmy Hoffa. Glimco was considered the most corrupt union leader in the United States. He was born in Italy and his first two applications for U.S. citizenship were turned down because of his connections to organized crime. He was successful in his third attempt.

His girlfriend and secretary lived in a house in a posh northern suburb which, to nobody’s surprise, was owned by the union. We all knew where our union dues were going.

At the time, there was a battle between Glimco and a breakaway faction that tried to clean up the union. It ended up with some reformers getting beaten up and a couple of cabs being tossed into the Chicago River. I don’t know how the battle ended because when Labor Day came I went back to college. Mercifully.

The point to the story is that if I wasn’t accepted for membership in the Union I was not allowed to hold a job. It was a union shop, and there was no right to work law. No union, no work. No work, no paycheck.

Why would I not be accepted for membership in the union? Writing an essay such as this one would do the trick. So, would trying to clean up the most corrupt union in America, for another. So would holding a job that a son of a union boss wanted. If my union membership was suspended I couldn’t work. The job could then go to the union boss’s son.

One of our most fundamental freedoms is freedom of association. It is the legal underpinning for unions. If I and my fellow workers want to associate with each other and form a union my Constitution recognizes our freedom to do so. But if I don’t want to associate with a union I am free not to do so. It is part of the rights Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence says were given to me by God, not by my government. It is part of what that Declaration says government was instituted to secure, not to have dominion over.

For now, 27 states including Nevada have right-to-work laws. It is one of the attributes of these 27 states that make them attractive to capital when it is looking for a location in which to settle. It is one of the considerations that make Nevada more attractive to capital than California or New York or Illinois.

But Joe Biden, his fellow Democrats, and his union handlers don’t see it that way. Here is a quote from Biden’s Website:

Ban state laws prohibiting unions from collecting dues or comparable payments from all workers who benefit from union representation that unions are legally obligated to provide. Currently, more than half of all states have in place these so-called “right to work” laws which in fact deprive workers of their rights. These laws exist only to deprive unions of the financial support they need to fight for higher wages and better benefits. As president, Biden will repeal the Taft-Hartley provisions that allow states to impose “right to work” laws.

I’m sure Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen agree. Candidate Patricia Ackerman implies she agrees. Here is an item from her website:

[I]ncome inequality and the increasing corporate power is what’s driving a divided country. Our labor workers and their rights must be protected at all costs to be able to compete in this ever-growing world of corporate dominance. I advocate for fair trade policies and to strengthen labor unions. I was a longtime member of two unions – SAG and AFTRA. I know what they did for us. And I stand behind the unions.

I’m sorry, Ms. Ackerman, but you and Joe Biden are hell-bent to take away my freedom of association. Implicit in my freedom of association is my freedom not to be forced to associate. On the other hand, my old union boss Joey Glimco must be smiling from wherever he now is. Maybe his secretary/girlfriend, too.

Norm Robins is a retired entrepreneur and ex-engineer whose first love is economics and who has lived and worked all over the world. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an MBA in International Business from the University of California, Berkeley. He and his wife and one of his three children live in Reno, Nevada.

Submitted opinions do not represent the views of This Is Reno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.


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