|Posted on March 2, 2011 at 2:32 PM|
Presently having been in more public offices as a Libertarian than any Libertarian, the Libertarian International Organization Co-ordinator, Platform Visionary, Philosopher, Movement co-founder, Fortune 500 consultant and retired Union Member Dr. Michael Gilson-De Lemos encourages Libertarians not just to support debate on 'Unions for All'--but to go on the offensive and suggest 4 of them.
Since the inception of the modern Libertarian project, I've encouraged all Libertarian and Liberal leaders in our network to advise dialogue on bettering union representation for all. I wish to extend that encouragement to the 600,000 who have taken the Libertarian pledge, and the growing number of LIO fans and supporters as citizen activists.
People have an absolute right to a union if one accepts they have an absolute right to attorney representation or agency, and fair mediation by the agents involved. This right is a natural one, which neither can be bartered nor contracted away. Additional support from the right to association is commonly asserted.
UNIONS ARE POWERFUL TOOLS
Unfortunate problems with unions have, according to many scholars, arisen from coercive attempts of official interference, not any problem with unions per se. Examples are given of mis-action on the extreme left where unions become little more than mouthpieces, and the extreme right proting infiltration by organized crime or capture by corporate entities. Confusion may have also arisen from the common-law practice of disallowing unions in small businesses where no agent is required and there is a more intimate relationship such as entities that do not make a public offer such as certain religious ones; and legal doctrines claiming professionals, government workers, free-lancers and others cannot unionize with legal benefit or form co-operatives without official permission; of forced union participation and the like. At the same time, the rights of employers to form unions under color of professional and lobbying groups, whether public or not, is often and rightly treated as beyond discussion. That in various countries unions must seek alliance with one political party or another to be heard is itself to many quite strange when all parties should vie for the honor and work to suppress class hatreds. In my opinion the wonder is that professional attorneys do not rush to champion the issue, suggesting how confused conceptions are, and the failure to realize the issue is not just unions, but choice of representatives.
Since the time of the Enlightenment Libertarians through this network have encouraged unions of every description, associated co-operatives and mutuals, and the choice thereof. From the work to bring dignity to the enslaved and ballot-disenfranchised, to the Pittsburgh statement in the 1800's to the IWW and more, participants have sought to assert the simple position that people can choose representatives both public and private, that these representatives both prevent and mediate many minor problems that can become major through common-law mechanisms of collective bargaining, the strike, third party mediators, and more; and an informative union of well-paid professionals and choice of unions is the best friend of the honest business or public agency in the same way as is an informed, well-paid and engaged customer or investor. Unions have led the way to implementing Libertarian co-operative ideas that enhance community while empowering the individual such as mutual banks and savings insurances, credit unions, access to the stock market once reserved to those favored by unjust laws, and pensions for their workers. Where every ally betrayed unions, Libertarians did not, because they view them as a right, a powerful tool of social betterment and mediation.
UNIONS AS CHAMPIONS OF FREE CHOICE
Unions, not rich fatcats looking for illegal but officalized favors, ended coercive Communism. In the work against coercive Communism and current work to mediate improvements in the Middle East and Africa, Libertarian International Organization friends have found budding unions from local co-operatives to physicians for rights key avenues of dialogue, communication, and action. Let us remember that it was Unions in contact with LIO and others that led the transition from coercive Communism and spread education on free enterprise and other Libertarian-interest concepts, often on pain of death. They have been reliable partners to business and managers in participatory management, self-driven quality improvement and health regulation, and low-cost employee education. Consumer unions and co-operatives provide better product informatiuon, and even unwittingly pioneer free-market alternatives such as free-goods stores and other ventures that confound the homilies of ideology bound economists.
In the US today, for example, Unions of government employees are, after preconceptions are addressed and clarified, among the most interested and intelligently critical supporters of Libertarian proposals for more choice and voluntary options in programs, and effective mentors and allies in exposing local rackets. One may make an argument that many of the crises of today are the result of legal interference with co-operatives and unions: Unions were in many countries well advanced in providing low cost and universal health care, education, small business assistance, negotiating nationally for higher wage levels than obtainable by politicized minimum wages or wage regulations forced by officials, and national defense when officials stepped in so 'common workers' could not tell their betters what to do through hiring them. That is to say, for example, why debate the wonders or evils of government health care for all as an only choice ...when union-driven health care for all is possible?
ONE WORKER, 4 UNIONS
Unions and the attendant co-operatives can do wonders. While many countries struggle to normalize one union, reformers in countries such as Germany have created systems where workers regularly belong to 3 unions at once: One for the business, one locally, and one professional, each handling different areas such as workplace disgreements, wages, and betterment of the profession and mediating economic surprises as a whole. True, there is much to be improved, but the modern Libertarian movement and LIO champion not issues but the process and the voluntary tool, recognizing that the answer to misuse is more choice and transparency, not deadening laws by secret groups.
There is no reason except legal barriers why people should not automatically belong to 3 such unions in all countries; to a 4th consumer and bartering co-operative union as well; that these unions should be free of charge and offer many services that eventually takeover many or all "public services" if desired, or at least offer them in parallel; and unions should not represent managers; that people should be able to join any union they wish or several at once; and membership be portable across any border.
Therefore I'm honored to praise those seeking to develop new union alternatives and their study and improvement as essential to both designed community choices and logical and beneficial use and operation of free and Libertarian markets by the average person, and so deserve every interest from Libertarian supporters and those using Libertarian-oriented ideas and tools, who in turn have already created pilot barter groups, co-ops and exchanges in many areas; and consumer unions in many countries to mediate tax issues and the like. I and those with me are committed to those who say: Choices in free markets, public programs, unions and more in an economy without taxation but a voluntary social contribution will, against every sceptic, prove a sure engine for retirement at 45, doubling of public and other worker salaries, and increased free or lower cost services in all nations for all if we, citizens, will let people experiment and try. Has that not been the trend for 200 years? Let us converse with those who say we must accept tiny pensions at 72, low wages, shoddy services, their government by surprise.
The advice of the co-ordinator is respectfully offered for general guidance to induce contrarian debate, and study of alternatives of a voluntary nature protective of rights.