Labor Laws and Class Struggles


November 28, 2012 by Anders Ingemarson

I love WalMart. Not necessarily to shop there, mind you, but as a symbol of Capitalism at its best, as an example of the American success story par excellence.

I’m cheering the company’s attempts to keep unions out of its stores. Thanksgiving offered the latest chapter in this saga, with labor union puppets staging “walkouts” to demonstrate against the decision to stay open on Thanksgiving Day. Once again, they failed. The vast majority of WalMart employees are thinking men and women who know that working for a big box means working big box hours. Big deal.

Big labor, on the other hand, is stuck in the imagined class struggle of the last century while the rest of us have moved on. As a consequence private sector unions have been in steady decline for the past 40 years.

Yet, more needs to be done. Current labor laws violate the rights of employers to hire and fire in the best interests of their businesses. And they violate the rights of employees to join a company without being forced into a union.  We need to advocate for the repeal of all labor laws. It’s one of the consequences of making the moral case for separating state and the economy.

I’m not advocating a ban on unions. Individuals have the right to voluntarily associate, including employees to form unions. But in a rights-respecting society, the employer can choose to negotiate or walk away. No laws force him to the table.

This is normally where my pro-union acquaintances conjure up images of armies of Scrooges chaining starving workers to endless rows of machines. There it is again. The cherished class struggle. Workers of the world, unite!

The class struggle is a myth. Back in the 19th century men and women flocked to factories to work under what we today consider appalling conditions because it was vastly better than starving back on the farm. And the last 150 years have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that when employers and employees are free to trade in the market place for labor, money in exchange for minds, without government interference, new ideas are born which generate new products and services which increase the demand for labor, for more minds, giving birth to more new ideas, generating more new products and services, further increasing the demand for labor, in a never ending virtuous cycle.

Telling these stories should be part of our efforts to dispel the cherished class struggle myth. And we should use all the wonderful examples that history provides, from Vanderbilt to Walton, from JP Morgan to Steve Jobs.

But no labor laws will be repealed and no class struggle myth dispelled unless we’re armed with the moral conviction that all men have the unalienable individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Labor laws are unethical because they violate individual rights. The traditional solution to the imagined class struggle is unethical because it prescribes taking by force from some for the benefit of others.

Last time I checked, the Declaration didn’t differentiate between employees and employers. Neither should we.

2 thoughts on “Labor Laws and Class Struggles

  1. Thomas Ryan says:

    Back in the late 1990s, I worked at company that operated several call centers. We were forever locked a battle with other call centers for qualified people. Another company would offer $0.10/hr more, and we’d lose 100 people. Meanwhile, we dealt with the problems of people not showing up for their shifts, occasional poor attitudes which translated to poor customer service, and other common problems of call center operations.
    I traveled to northern UK to visit two call centers near the Scottish border. There, the agents dressed a notch above business-casual (all the men wore ties and sport coats – the women wore slacks/blouse or a dress). Everyone treated customers with the utmost respect. The average tenure was over 15 years! When I asked why, the answer was simple, “This is a whole lot better than slopping hogs!” … the only employment alternative in the area.
    When I returned, we looked for economically disadvantaged areas in the U.S. instead of trying to compete in large metropolitan markets. The company opened several more call centers. At one 1,000 seat center that operated 24/7/365, we had over 20,000 people apply for the first wave of 5,000 new hires.
    Now, were we evil capitalists taking advantage of poor workers? Just ask the agents. One call center was opened in the heart of “union territory.” Union organizers tried to come in…and the agents through them out!
    I’ve moved on to other opportunities. But today, the company operates six domestic call centers, receives the highest JDPowers awards for customer service in its industry, and has very little problem with agent turnover.


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