When I’m talking with Washington voters, I get asked a lot of questions about my positions on union labor. The most frequent question is, “Do you support ‘Right to Work’ legislation?” Let me answer that question right away:
I will never sign any Right to Work legislation. That is my commitment to our wonderful union workers and their families.
I believe in the value and importance of collective bargaining and I believe an honest day’s work is worth an honest day’s wage. It’s the most important mechanism we have for determining the price and terms of different types of work in our economy. And in our society.
From a purely economic perspective, collective bargaining is a more effective way to determine these prices and terms of labor than any laws or regulations passed by politicians. Collective bargaining, at its best, is the free market speaking because a rising tide lifts all boats!
That said, I do have concerns about some government-employee union activity. These unions are very politically partisan—much more than private-sector unions.
When they get involved in politics, private-sector unions—electricians, carpenters, plumbers, pipefitters, metal workers, transportation workers, teamsters, longshoremen, etc.—tend to be open-minded and talk to policymakers from all sides. Government-employee unions tend to support politicians from just one side of the aisle. This is troubling.
And this isn’t a new thing. In the mid-1900s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt—who was a liberal Democrat—expressed concerns about government-employee unions becoming too partisan. So, he opposed their formation.
I don’t oppose government-employee unions like FDR did. However, I would like to see those groups broaden their approach and talk more regularly to policymakers from all sides of the political spectrum.