On the recall.

There’s a knock at your door. You open it. A group of ten people stand there, introduce themselves as the local chapter of the Painters’ Guild, and offer to paint your house. They say they will do it if you pay each of them $20 per hour. You say you would like them to paint your house, but you will not compensate each painter equally. You are willing to pay half of them $20 an hour and half of them $15 an hour. They insist on $20 per hour for everyone. You insist on different payments for different painters.

Has anyone been forced out of the Guild?

Has anyone been forbidden to join the Guild?

Has the Guild been abolished?

Have anyone’s rights been violated? If so, whose?

Would knowing which side got its way (or the better end of the deal) change the answers to any of the above questions?

Tomorrow Wisconsin is going to have a recall vote, partly because the governor and legislature decided not to bargain with public sector employee unions on a collective basis regarding any matter aside from wages. Many public employees in Wisconsin argue that this decision violated their rights. Which rights?

3 thoughts on “On the recall.

  1. Here’s a novel legal theory for you. Note I didn’t claim that it was a sound one.

    The public employees are asking to discuss conditions of employment with the government, including but not restricted to wages. That discussion could even be described as a petition of grievances because of work conditions. Wisconsin says they are going to preclude those petitions. The law is therefore a violation of the First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

    I’m sure you’ll have almost as much fun destroying that as I had coming up with it.


  2. These aren’t citizens petitioning their government for a redress of grievances. These are employees trying to negotiate compensation.

    Something else just occurred to me– what if I want to negotiate apart from a public employee union? That is, what if I don’t want to bargain collectively?

    Say I think my teaching salary should be $250,000. There’s no way I’ll get that much money out of the school board. The school board won’t even entertain the possibility because it negotiates with the union to determine my salary, even if I don’t belong to the union. Why? Maybe because of the union’s bargaining leverage. Maybe because it’s easier or more efficient for the school board to negotiate with one entity. Either way, it would be a stretch to argue that I’ve been denied my right to petition– after all, I could always “petition” them for the higher salary, and they’d just say “no.”

    I wonder whether any of the pro-recall folks (specifically, those who think their collective bargaining rights have been violated) would stand up for my right to refuse to bargain collectively? Or is that one of those rights I have to exercise whether I like it or not?


  3. Another note to add to the conversation: I work on hourly wages (being a college student and what not). As a result, my place of work refuses to allow me to work over 40 hours due to the hour and a half laws. While this seems small, there are mothers and fathers working their asses off at my place of employment to put food on the table, and they are limited to 40 hours a week, thus limiting the working class on the amount the can work. And to think, people think it’s a positive thing that overtime laws are around, if you ask me, I think those people are ignorant of what’s going on around them.


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