Collective bargaining is to workers’ rights as the marriage license is to marriage.

Raise your hand if you’re married. Now wonder: what if there was no such thing as a marriage license?

Would you still be married?

The marriage license: that seemingly insignificant piece of paper you get from and give back to your local county clerk. An afterthought, really. Just a quick couple penstrokes between the ceremony and the pictures. All us married folk have signed one. And that, my friends, means we’re married!

Right? Well…

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No. Marriage is larger than that piece of paper. Bigger than the laws that piece of paper brings into play. And it does bring laws into play, you know. The whole reason for that piece of paper in the first place is: laws. The state. The marriage license is not, after all, a contract between you and your spouse. It’s a contract between you and the state.

The marriage license gives the state authority to do things for you – and to you – because you’re married. The state controls divorce; it controls how children are placed; it controls how assets, both current and future, are divided.

Much of this is necessary in such a divorce-heavy society as ours. But the fact remains: the marriage license isn’t your marriage.

Marriage predates the license. And should the zombie apocalypse or computer nerd’s accidental EMP bring society to its knees, marriage will continue to exist.

Even without the license.

So, too, will employees continue to negotiate with employers after collective bargaining is gone.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker and a group of tough-minded Republican legislators have succeeded in legally, democratically changing the law to limit collective bargaining for government employees.

Does the law “destroy unions?” That’s really up to the union members themselves, who never had a choice about joining the union before now.

Does it destroy “worker rights?” No, it doesn’t, no matter how loudly the unionist protesters yell.

To understand that, we have to understand exactly what “collective bargaining” is, or more importantly, what it isn’t. Collective bargaining isn’t the same thing as negotiations. It isn’t the same thing as asking for something. It isn’t the same as offering something in return.

If Governor Walker is “taking away workers’ rights,” those “rights” do not include free speech and association. He isn’t taking those away. He couldn’t, even if he wanted to.

As the marriage license isn’t the relationship between husband and wife, collective bargaining isn’t the relationship between employer and employee. Collective bargaining, like the marriage license, is government supervision over that relationship.

Collective bargaining is a legal construction. It’s government oversight. Any employee, anywhere, working for anybody, can go to the boss and ask for more money, or more time off, or longer breaks. And that same employee can make concessions, offering something in return for the perks or extras he wants.

Any group of employees can do this, whether they’re unionized or not; whether they’re allowed to unionize or not. That’s the First Amendment. Freedom of speech. Freedom of association.

But when a union is involved, collective bargaining laws come into play. Both sides – union and employer – are required to do certain things. Both sides are allowed to do certain things. All of this is overseen by…the government.

By limiting collective bargaining, Governor Walker is telling the government to butt out. Employees will still be able to ask for things. They’ll be able to offer things in return. They simply won’t have to wrap themselves in the blanket of government rules.

To say that “rights” are being taken away is like saying your marriage is nothing more than a piece of paper. It just isn’t so.

(Posted by The TrogloPundit)

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