August 17, 2011

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Time To Get Rid Of Collective Bargaining.

There are two deep ironies in the current impasse. The first is that the strike lays bare one constant theme of union supporters etched on those picket signs—namely, that union members are the heart and soul of the middle class. That persistent and pretentious claim ignores all the nonunion workers at Verizon Wireless, as well as thousands of other small businessmen and women. The sad truth is that the CWA does not care about the middle class as such. It cares about its dues-paying members, whom this strike will ill serve.

The second irony hits a larger point: given today’s difficult job market, the current system of collective bargaining to impasse and strike is indefensible. The arrangement does nothing to improve overall productivity within the firm. And when the negotiations break down, strikes and lockouts impose tremendous dislocations on innocent third persons, such as customers and suppliers, for whom there is no compensation at all.

Obviously, those third parties need to sue!

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