Labour Unions in the Bahamas: Closed Shop Laws and Involuntary Membership
Union membership — including dues payment — is not voluntary for all Bahamians. In industries such as education and tourism (hotel workers), employees are physically coerced by the Bahamas government to pay a part of their wages to union officials — even if they do not agree with the union policies and do not want to join the union. The present legal system puts union leaders in a position where they do not have to act in the best interests of its members.
|It is through the power to refrain from paying union dues that the Bahamian laborer has power over his union leader. By the government making payment mandatory, the check on the union leader is replaced with a leash on the laborer.
End Government Created Union Slavery
By Mark Da Cunha (October 1, 2005)I enjoyed reading Oswald Brown’s “The Royal Oasis Saga” — including his concise analysis of how the West End economy was destroyed in the late 80’s by coercive union power.
One point worth emphasizing is that the concept of unions should not be blamed for the West End-Jack Tarr fiasco, but, the legislation — that granted union leaders coercive powers that they had no moral right to possess — should be held responsible. It was obvious that union leaders did not act in the best interests of its members — yet those members who did not agree with the union — and who could have put a stop to the madness — were silenced by “closed shop” laws, and the mandatory payment of union dues.
I suggest two policy measures to prevent this catastrophe from happening again:
1. Union membership — including dues payment — should be voluntary for all Bahamians.
Collective bargaining is an important economic and moral tool in a free society for individual laborers — so long as membership is voluntary. If a Bahamian does not wish to join a union it is immoral for anyone to force him to pay union dues — especially if he does not agree with union policies. This is nothing more than government mandated slavery.
The only beneficiaries of such a setup — where Bahamians are forced against their will to pay $10 to the union leader — are the union leaders and the politicians. The loser in this “arranged marriage” is the Bahamian laborer (and employer).
It is through the power to refrain from paying union dues that the Bahamian laborer has power over his union leader. By the government making payment mandatory, the check on the union leader is replaced with a leash on the laborer.
2. Bahamians should be free to form their own (competing) unions without begging for government permission, i.e., there should be no government created union monopolies.
With the implementation of the first proposal, union leaders will have to work for their member’s interests rather then taking such dues for granted — that is, if they wish to keep their members (and their mammoth six figure salaries).
Furthermore, with the implementation of the second proposal it will be easy for Bahamians unhappy with their present union to form their own union, in line with their own personal economic, political, and moral beliefs.
All Bahamian citizens have the inalienable right to form a union, just as any Bahamian has the moral right to form a business partnership or get married. Such a right belongs to the individual, and not to the state. It is time the government start protecting that right, as opposed to passing legislation that violates it. It is time to take the power away from union leaders and politicians, and give it back to where it belongs: individual laborers.
Reprinted by Permission of FreedomBahamas.com