The catchword that has emerged from the Michigan union debacle is “choice” ["Bad news for unions is bad news for workers," Opinion]. The discussion implies that a worker should have the right to decide whether to live under the terms negotiated by a union or by the largesse of an employer.
In reality, the choice is to enjoy the benefits negotiated by the union without having to help pay the freight.
Real choice would be to choose not to belong to the union and accept the terms and conditions dictated by the employer. A clever employer might match union salary scale, but not job security, fringe benefits, grievance procedures, seniority rights or a collective voice at the table. Few workers would choose to give up the benefits of a collective bargaining contract if they had to depend on the kindness of the employer.
That’s why choice is the wrong word to describe accepting the benefits of collective bargaining while opting out of the obligation to pay a part of the cost for establishing those benefits.
Charles Loiacono, Hicksville
Editor’s note: The writer is the president of the Nassau County Coalition of Labor.