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Towards a Worker’s Bill of Rights

The traditional understanding of civil liberties has been that citizens have individual rights that cannot be violated by the government. This approach has no doubt protected the inhabitants of the United States and other Western countries from some of the worst abuses of power. Citizens cannot be jailed for their religious or political views or punished for a crime on a mere accusation with no trial. However, as society has evolved, we have reached an age in which individual liberty is most threatened not by the government but by large corporations.

There are those who will likely disagree with this premise, arguing that economic activity by private entities cannot infringe on civil liberties because individuals still have the right to choose to do business with other entities whose views are more aligned with their own. However, in the age of mass media and social media, this often does not play out in practice. Those who wish to see change face a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma. If a large group chooses to boycott companies who engage in illiberal treatment of their employees, they have a good chance of coercing those companies into changing their behavior. If a single individual or a small group pushes for change, they are more likely to derail their own careers than to advance their cause.  As such, only those with a great deal of courage are willing to speak out.

As a result of this, there is currently a climate in which workers live under threat of being terminated from their jobs for reasons that violate their individual rights. Google fired a highly accomplished engineer because he had the audacity to question the dogma that the gender gap in technology is solely the result of discrimination. Starbucks pushed out an employee who was the target of unsubstantiated allegations of racism. The CEO of Mozilla was forced to resign after activists objected to his political donations years earlier. And there is every reason to believe that there are many more instances involving everyday people that did not make the headlines.

There are serious questions that we ought to ask about whether this is the kind of world in which we want to live. While there is no doubt that those of us living in the West are far more free than those living under genuinely totalitarian regimes, we ought to question whether our civil liberties are truly protected when we can be fired from our jobs and left without a way of putting food on the table if we choose to exercise them. In the case of civil rights, we’ve recognized for more than half a century that protecting citizens from discrimination by the government is not good enough. We’ve therefore enacted legislation such as the Civil Rights Act, Title IX, and the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that individuals are not impeded from equal participation in society by private entities. However, other constitutional rights—including the all-important freedom of speech—remain unprotected against the actions of private entities at the federal level.

Even at the state level, protections that exist may be too weak to be effective. For example, New York protects an employee’s right to engage in “lawful off-duty conduct,” which includes political activities. However, political activities are defined very narrowly to include only running for office, campaigning for a candidate, or raising money for a candidate, party, or advocacy group.  This definition does not include expressing support for, or opposition to, proposed legislation, writing letters to elected officials, volunteering for a party or advocacy group in a capacity other than fundraising, participating in a non-violent protest, writing letters to the editor of a newspaper or magazine, or posting political content on a personal web site or blog. All of the above are widely recognized as activities that are essential to the healthy functioning of a liberal democracy. If corporations can punish citizens for engaging in these activities, then we ought to question how free we truly are.

Future employees at a Google training seminar in France

Therefore, the time has come to begin campaigning for a Worker’s Bill of Rights. This article proposes an outline of what such a measure might look like in order to provide a starting point for discussions.

Principles

A Worker’s Bill of Rights would not require any amendments to the Constitution and could be passed as ordinary federal legislation. Considering that enacting any such measures at the state or local level could cause companies to move their businesses to other states, these issues affect interstate commerce.  Therefore, the federal government has the power to pass such legislation under the Constitution.

Simply applying the Bill of Rights to businesses would not be appropriate. There are many things that would be unconstitutional if done by the government that employers have a legitimate interest in doing. For example, a company has a legitimate interest in prohibiting employees from preaching their personal political views in front of customers while on the job.  A company has a legitimate interest in prohibiting employees from bringing weapons into the workplace if it believes that such a restriction would help protect the safety of those who work there.

That said, this proposal for a Worker’s Bill of Rights is similar in sprit to many of the amendments to the United States Constitution and is therefore modeled upon them. Each section is based on a different amendment and outlines how the rights protected by that amendment should apply in the workplace. Not all amendments are included, as some of the address issues such as the quartering of soldiers or cruel and unusual punishment that are unlikely to arise in an employment context.

The protection of a right in the workplace shall be understood to mean that it will be unlawful for a company to terminate or otherwise punish an employee for exercising that right or to discriminate against an applicant for having exercised that right in the past.

Amendment I: Freedom of Speech

Employees shall have the right, when they are off the job, to engage in political activities of their choosing. Political activities shall include voting or campaigning for any candidate; expressing support for or opposition to any proposed legislation; advocating for new legislation on any issue or the repeal of any existing legislation; donating to any political campaign, political party, political action committee, or other political organization; volunteering with any such organization in any capacity; contacting elected officials by mail, telephone, email, social media, or any other means; participating in non-violent protests; and writing books, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, blog posts, social media posts, or any other type of written or electronic content advocating any political position.

Employers shall have the right to prohibit employees from discussing certain political issues in the workplace. If they wish to do so, they must provide a written policy to all employees explicitly stating what issues cannot be discussed. Such a policy must allow or disallow discussion of a particular issue. It may not allow the expression of one position while disallowing expression of the contrary. This is consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment as allowing subject discrimination while prohibiting viewpoint discrimination. An exception shall be made for certain non-profit employers such as political campaigns and political action committees, for which political advocacy is central to their mission. These employers shall be permitted to prohibit the expression of political views contrary to those for which they are advocating.

Employees shall have the right to criticize their employer’s treatment of employees in discussions with one another and while off the job. They shall have the right, whether individually or collectively, to express their grievances to their employer. Employers may prohibit employees from engaging in such criticism while they are in front of customers representing the company.

Amendment II: Right to Bear Arms

An employee shall have the right to own a weapon for self-defense or hunting as permitted by local, state, and federal law. An employer may prohibit employees from bringing weapons to the workplace if it determines that doing so would help to protect employees’ safety. An employer may terminate an employee who is convicted of a violent crime if it determines that retaining the employee would endanger the safety of others.

Amendment IV: Privacy

An employer may not, as a condition of employment, require that employees allow the company to search their residence, monitor their activities while not on the job, or provide the employer with access to personal email or social media accounts.  An employee shall have the right to engage in any lawful hobbies or leisure activities while off-duty.

Employers may choose to monitor employees’ use of company-provided electronic equipment, to search any personal property that employees bring to the office, and/or to use surveillance cameras to monitor employees while they are at work. However, employees have the right to be informed in writing if they are subject to search and/or monitoring at least 24 hours prior to such policy going into effect.  An employer may not use an electronic device, including but not limited to a camera on a company-provided laptop computer or smartphone, to monitor any employee while the employee is not on company premises. Any employer that does so without the knowledge of the employee being monitored shall be subject to criminal prosecution.

Amendment V: Due Process

In the event that an employee is accused of misconduct, including but not limited to discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and sexual harassment, the employee shall have the right to a hearing before being fired, demoted, or subject to a pay cut. In such a hearing, the employee shall have the right to know the charges of misconduct being made, to access all evidence being used to substantiate these charges, and to cross-examine any witnesses. Prior to offering testimony, all witnesses shall be advised that they will be subject to termination if they knowingly and deliberately make false statements that lead to another employee being fired, although they will also have the right to a hearing prior to such termination. The accused employee shall not be forced to make self-incriminating statements and shall have the right to be accompanied by an attorney or other support person of the employee’s choosing. In order for an employee to be punished, the employee’s guilt must be proven by at least a preponderance of the evidence, although an employer may elect to use a more stringent standard of proof, provided that it does so in a written policy and applies this higher standard in all hearings.

Nothing in this section shall prevent an employer from discharging an employee whose performance does not meet the company’s standards or laying off an employee whose position is being eliminated.  In these cases, a hearing is not necessary.

Amendment XIV: Nondiscrimination

Employees and prospective employees shall have the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of the following protected characteristics: race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. This right shall be absolute, and there shall be no exceptions for discrimination in the name of promoting diversity or discrimination against “privileged” groups in the name of remedying the effects of past discrimination. Employers may not consider any protected characteristic when making decisions regarding hiring, promotion, or compensation. Employers may not restrict access to any outreach programs, internship programs, training programs, conferences, grants, or scholarships on the basis of a protected characteristic.

The Path to Adoption

Reaching national consensus that a Worker’s Bill of Rights is necessary will inevitably be a long and difficult process. This proposal will likely face opposition both from libertarians who oppose any government regulation of private businesses and by progressives who will incorrectly assume that free speech protections in the workplace would create a hostile environment for women and minorities. A successful campaign will need to draw support from across the political spectrum, appealing to those on the left who are frustrated with the concentration of power in the hands of millionaires and billionaires as well as those on the right who are frustrated with excessive political correctness that has cost well-meaning employees their jobs at companies such as Google and Starbucks. Compromise will certainly be necessary. This proposal is intended only to serve as a starting point on the long path to the enactment of a Worker’s Bill of Rights.

 

Gideon Scopes is a software engineer. 

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The author is a software engineer. Gideon Scopes is a pseudonym. Given the current climate surrounding political expression in the technology industry, his real name has been withheld.

72 Comments

  1. S. Cheung says

    Interesting concept by the author. And I agree with the need that he/she sees, and am intrigued by the proposed solution. Seems wise to formulate as a federal statute, and to adopt a constitutional framework. I wonder though, if the concepts were to be adopted and put into force, whether the author would feel adequately protected to have published without a pseudonym.
    Our current call-out culture and deplatforming are the go-to moves for those on the extremes of conversation. As is the fragility those folks exhibit towards ideas. So forget about those successful enough to have notoriety with the general public; even average joes won’t use their real names in non-work related forays into media platforms, for fear that the angry hordes who get triggered will doxx their home, or boycott their employer’s business. Will this new framework really force a private business owner to potentially lose their business in order to protect one of their worker’s right to express a triggering idea while off the clock?

    • David of Kirkland says

      Your worker freedom means that employers and co-workers lose their right to work with people they want to work with. How do you expect a human mind to ignore posting about white supremacy, or why pedophilia is part of human nature, or that those holding western values are evil and greedy, or that God solves all problems so humans don’t need to worry so long as they pray for solutions?
      You are free to have your faith, but it’s absurd I’m not free to judge that faith as indicative of their ability to deal with reason over faith, reality over beliefs, preference for authority over liberty, etc.?
      Rights for governments make sense as they have complete power over you. They can take your money and property; they can lock you in a cage; they can kill you. No company can do that, and your rights stop when they infringe on my right to decide who I will pay for work and who I must associate with on the job.

      • Blue Lobster says

        It should not and does not matter what a co-worker or employee’s privately held beliefs are – even if he chooses to give voice to them via social media. If you don’t like what an individual lawfully posts on social media you have the right to pay no attention to their social media output. The only pertinent detail is whether or not the employee or applicant is competent to perform their duties and positively contributes (within the scope of those duties) to the overall functioning of the organization they work for or would like to work for. If your productivity in the workplace is negatively affected by actions or speech that a co-worker or employee lawfully engages in outside the workplace, you are the one creating the problem, not the other way around.

      • S. Cheung says

        David – perhaps I’m misunderstanding your position. But I would say that being able to choose your coworkers is not a right. If you don’t like who you are having to associate with on the job, you really only have one choice. And yes, it would be uncomfortable working beside a decerebrate who posts about being a white supremacist outside of work, or about being some wingnut churchy type (the pedo bit is slightly different cuz that can quickly approach criminality, and i don’t think the author would intend his bill to protect criminal behaviour). However, even without posting about it, he still would be one. Being able to post about it simply draws them out of the closet. So this bill would merely embolden him or her to post about their craziness, and allow you to know what he/she really is. To me, knowing is better; I’m not much for the ignorance-is-bliss train of thought.

      • Stephen Pierson says

        Would you feel the same way if you were to lose your job for the sentiments you’ve just posted here? Put differently, it sounds to me that you understand the world better than others. Isn’t it really the case that you understand the world differently? Further, most work environments require cooperation, not association in the sense that you use. You can listen to those who’s ideas are preposterous, tell them as much, and continue working. Or, you can exclude them from your space. That is a space that sounds safe, arrogant, and monological.

      • Maria Folsom says

        Excellent! This should be an essay in itself. Thank you for writing this.

  2. Ben says

    So a business cant fire an employee for expressing, for example, satanic beliefs on a public forum?

    No, the civil rights act and title 9 are deeply flawed laws that decrease our freedoms. More laws like these will not make us more free. After all, business owners also have rights.

    Also i find it incorrect to assert that if i disagree with the stance of google, it takes any amount of courage to start using duck duck go instead.

    I do think a case can be made for anti-trust against, say, apple for only allowing apps to be downloaded through its own app store, denying users access to apps like gab.

    But i disagree that the solution to any problem is to infringe on certain peoples (business owners) constitutional rights to “benefit” a larger group. In fact, that is the exact reason we have a constitution.

    • Bill says

      Social media companies and search engines were granted immunity under the guise of being platforms and not content managers. I have no problem with them being selective in their clientele or service offerings when they are a private company; however, as private companies they should not be afforded the communities of the platform definition which is aligned with public utilities/use infrastructure. They simply can’t have it both ways, choose one. Either accept the title of a “private club” so you can choose whom you serve/ban/allow/deny and face whatever legal exposures that provides (ala the Christian Bake Shops), or declare yourself a platform and face whatever discomfort you feel by having to allow all viewpoints, even those you disagree with.

      The same goes for things like Apple and the App Store. Are mobile devices part of infrastructure? With “Obama Phones” i’d say yes. So if the Government is providing the iPhone to the poor, then is the Government sponsoring the censorship of the AppStore?

  3. This article is US specific. in the UK anyone who has been employed for mor ethan two years (less under specific circumstances such as complaining about violations of the law by the employer) can sue for unfair dismissal. The employer needs to show that there is a reasonable business reason to terminate employment. Expressing a political opinion in a reasonable and appropriate way cannot be a reaosnable business reason and the employer would have to pay compensation.
    If the business reason is lack of performance or some misdeed by the employee the employer needs to show they followed a fair process, communicating the issue to the employee, giving them a chance to respond, if the issue is not serious giving them an opportunity to correct the problem etc. This seems to cover what the author is suggetsing and do so in a more flexible less prescriptive way.

    I don’t in any cas ethink th eproblem is correctly characetrised. It is not specifically business which is restricting peoples right to hold and express reasonable dissenting opinions. Some of the examples given show this. The problem is that there is a significant portion of society which hold strong believes and think that they are justified in taking almost any action short of actiual violence aganst those who express different opinions. Torrent of abuse, complaints and false allegations to the authourities, clients, employers, friends/acquitances wil lderail most peoples lives and businesses. If the people concerned are within a business then the problem may be as described but as often as not they are simply part of a public mob. I am not sure the solution to this is more legislation.

    • David of Kirkland says

      In the US, you’d sue for damages. You can’t fire people for expressing ideas outside of the business, and I’ve never heard of a business claiming they can search your private property.

      • John Davis says

        “I’ve never heard of a business claiming they can search your private property.”

        Plenty of companies routinely search their employees when they leave the business premises to check for theft.

  4. If this is a list of the way things “should” be, then I’d have to say I agree with most of this theory … in theory. The ideas presented are widely accepted as expectations in the US now. Ignoring the few typos and grammatical errors that incessantly distract me, it is a well written first draft of a brainstorming session.

    But that is in theory … out here in the real world we have to contend with much more than a literary sense and our troubled thoughts. We have relationships, emotions, workplace culture, and many other things to consider.

    Easily the most obvious fact is this: we already have all of these rights. The issue isn’t that we need more rights. The issue is we need more courage. A person cannot go around saying, “I know I have the right to free speech, but I’m afraid someone might not like it. Can you please pass laws that will make it so I cannot lose anything meaningful to me if I say what I think?”

    If you have the right to free speech, you have to have the courage to say what you think. You take the chance that some people will disagree with you. If those people are more closed minded, they will not want you around. This happens regularly. Ignorant and small minded people cannot handle the stress of talking or spending time with someone who holds an opinion opposite of their own. They cannot entertain a thought without believing that thought.

    The pain is real and motivating. These people characterize this pain as if it were inflicted by the other person when it was truly and completely generated in their own mind. They become emotional begin to make irrational decisions, even going so far as to fire one of their be and st employees for having a thought and expressing it, for example.

    This danger will not decrease one bit by implementing restrictive laws. Employers can find a reason to fire anyone if they are determined to do so. More importantly, laws do not work to curtail involuntary conditions caused by mental deficiencies.

    In these situations, we have to find the courage to stand up for what we believe in … without concern for the repercussions. There are other jobs and other coworkers to spend time with. If we truly believe in a cause, we should be willing to take these chances.

    But it takes courage and strong will, two things that are increasingly discouraged in our schools and universities. Just seeing this document instead of a clear complaint of the specific activities that are to blame is a cry for help, in a way.

    • Eurocrat says

      Proposal does sound like an affirmative action on behalf of free speech. It is like fighting climate change with solar panels. Instead of deregulating erection of nuclear plants. The biggest attack on freedom of speech does not come from lack of protection of workers’ rights, but from the stream of regulation, formal and informal, regarding minority rights. Thus, as minority rights are directly undermining human rights in general, the solution is to abolish laws which grant minority rights plus general rejection of PC culture.

      In other words, look for more conflicting regulations that will solve nothing.

      • Russ says

        “Yes” to both of these comments.

        I’m reminded of one person who wanted more government regulation to “solve” the “problems” caused by government regulation in regard to so-called Net Neutrality.

        Because giving someone more poison always cures a little poison…

  5. E. Olson says

    I appreciate the sentiment, because I do feel that the firings of “sexist” James Damore, the “racist” Starbucks manager, and the “homophobic” CEO of Mozilla were highly unfair and uncalled for, but I’m not sure the proposed “rights” would actually have protected them. I do know with absolute certainty, however, that these proposed “rights” would increase the costs of doing business and make it much more expensive to fire people even for good cause, because that is exactly what happened when Civil Service reforms were implemented by the government to “protect” government bureaucrats from political “persecution”, and when union work rules are put in place to protect members from “arbitrary” or “political” firing or punishment from management.

    And with increased costs and greater difficulty in firing two further things will happen: 1) fewer people will get hired, and 2) much more discrimination will take place during the hiring. Making employment more expensive through the passage and enforcement of such rights would certainly lead to an increase in automation or off-shoring of jobs to places where it is easier to fire bad or troublesome employees. And if an employer is concerned about hiring a homophobe for a job that can’t be automated or shipped out, because such a hiring could create a “hostile” work environment, they will be sure to put extra effort into investigating potential hires for any evidence that they might be homophobic – ever been a member of an evangelical church? ever voted Republican? ever attended a NASCAR race? did you sign a petition expressing support for the defense of marriage act 25 years ago? ever post a gay joke on social media? If the answer is yes or even maybe to any of these questions they won’t take a chance on hiring you because they will know they won’t be able to economically fire you if you turn out to be insufficiently PC regarding gay rights.

    And if you think it is just fine and justified to discriminate against insufficiently “woke” citizens so that their employment opportunities are crushed, remember it can and will work the opposite way as well. If the employer is concerned that an overt LGQT activist employee might create a hostile workplace or offend a large customer group, they will certainly put extra effort to not hire any applicant who might be an activist as indicated by regular votes for Democrats, membership in the Freddie Mercury fan club, attending gay pride parades, or showing too much interest in fashion and grooming. In fact, it is likely that such an employee bill of rights would have the most detrimental effects on the “victim” classes, because hiring them would increase the chances that the race card, or the gay card, or the sexism card would be played as part of their bill of rights defense whenever the employer tried to fire a victim class member for poor workplace performance.

    What is really needed is for employers and managers to grow a backbone, or to use the sexist vernacular – to “man-up”, because when the agitators and activists come after a good employee who has done nothing illegal or otherwise damaging to the company, they should firmly and politely tell the angry mob to go to hell. And it would also be helpful if employees focused their efforts on being a productive and well-liked asset to their employer by keeping their activism at home. Remember, very few of your co-workers and the customers you interact with are likely to care about your opinions regarding Trump, abortion, LGQT rights, religion, gun rights, veganism, global warming, or a host of other contentious issues where people hold wildly varying opinions or simply don’t care.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @E. Olson

      I’m highly conflicted over issues like this but as you point out any sort of legislative fix is very likely to provide a spectacular demonstration of the law of unintended consequences. For example in my business — small businesses like mine being essentially unregulated in Canada — I could hire and fire anyone at any time for any reason. Now, here’s where the intuition of the SJW backfires: being the racist that I am, I had a distinct bias for hiring Indians, however, again being the racist that I am, I also know that Indians as a group tend to be unreliable workers. However, since I had no impediments to firing the unreliable, I had no reason not to give Indians a fair chance up front. But, were their Victim status to become a reality for me — that is, were they to be protected from being fired on the basis — naturally every firing would be spun as Discrimination and I’d have to try to prove the unprovable, namely that they were simply an inferior employee — the result would be that I’d never hire another Indian.

      Whereas the Damore firing is a blatant abuse, again one wonders what the fix might be. Also, it seems very different in a big, impersonal corporation and in a small business like mine: I worked up close and personal with my employees. Were I to find out that one of them were a card carrying Nazi, I would find working with them effectively impossible. Any small businessman knows exactly what I mean here. Honestly, if I fired someone and some bureaucrat told me I had to rehire them or pay them damages, I’d shut down my business right then and there and go back to working solo.

      • E. Olson says

        Ray – you are living the exact thing that I know will happen if such rights would became the law. You just couldn’t afford to take a chance on an Indian, or a black, or gay or whatever victim might be applying because you couldn’t then get rid of them if they didn’t work out. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          I know it. Shameless as I am in considering the welfare of the working guy, I’m yet aware of the way things backfire. Trying to thread the needle, I keep coming back to UBI, which would have the magical property that, since no one would ever be left entirely without income, a hundred other protections and social programs might be dispensed with, including various employment rules. If Google wants to fire Damore or I want to fire a homosexual, it’s no one’s business but ours. Tho needless to say whatever blowback might be encountered is at our risk. Thus one might hope that one day Google pays a price.

    • David of Kirkland says

      It’s no wonder employers look to replace humans with machines. Hiring is a benefit to the employee who apparently must rely upon others for income. Now it’s turning out they should have all these rights over their employer who is now unfree to hire the people they want. In Seattle, they are coerced by government on how to schedule employees, how to pay them, what benefits they must be given, and firing people has always been an invitation for a lawsuit.
      We need rights to protect us from powerful governments, but not from employers where you have lots to choose from, or you can start your own business, or you can consult/contract your labor, but forcing them to pay you for your work when they don’t want you is absurd, a form of coercive liberty (which doesn’t exist).

      • Ray Andrews says

        @David of Kirkland

        “We need rights to protect us from powerful governments, but not from employers where you have lots to choose from”

        Who are ‘we’ and who is to decide what ‘our’ rights should be? In a democracy it seems to me that ‘we’ are the majority of the voters. To turn a free-marketer’s trope on it’s head, the capitalists of Seattle are free to move to another city if they don’t like the worker’s protections there. If Seattle creates an environment in which no capitalists want to do business, then of course Seattle will harm itself. But the ‘right’ social policy is whatever the market will bare, and greed is good, so the people of Seattle are quite free to be greedy and to grant themselves whatever protections they choose. Again, capital will flee if it doesn’t like it. If there is no such thing as morality (Rand) then capital owes the workers absolutely nothing more than the lowest possible wage that the market will bare, OTOH the workers collectively (via the vote) owe capital absolutely nothing more than the highest possible social protections that the market will bare. No?

      • K. Dershem says

        Companies are also “coerced” by government to refrain from using child labor. Is that an unjust restriction on economic liberty? In the absence of laws that mandate consistent standards (in terms of worker safety, family and medical leave, overtime pay, etc.), corporations that exploit their workers have a competitive advantage over employers that operate more ethically. Regulations create a level playing field. As Ray wrote, states and municipalities have every right to enact more stringent standards, e.g. by establishing a higher minimum wage or requiring companies to provide schedules in advance so employees have some degree of predictability. In the absence of consistent schedules, it can be extremely difficult for workers to arrange child care, pick up shifts at a second (or third) job, take classes, etc. Low-income workers have very little leverage in negotiations with employers, especially in service-sector industries that aren’t unionized. They’re easily replaceable. The idea that they’re entering into completely voluntary contracts on equal footing with the companies that employ them is a free market fantasy.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @K. Dershem

          The thing about the Freemarketers is that they genuinely believe that the economic model that best serves the interests of capital is somehow the right and proper and natural and wholesome and best economic model and that anything which works better for workers is inherently wicked. They would think that, wouldn’t they? They say that Louis IV considered that it was God’s will that France properly exists for one reason and that was his wealth and his glory. I think I read somewhere that Versailles alone consumed 1/4 of the GDP of the whole country. But they are wrong. Society can implement any economic model it chooses. Capital is free to leave if it doesn’t like it.

          • Robin says

            @K. Dershem you’re making a false equivalency between children – who lack the understanding and foresight to form contracts – and adult workers with competing priorities. It should be noted that when child labour laws were enacted in Britain the practice had already been virtually abandoned due to the greater wealth which accompanied industrialisation.

            @Ray Andrews Louis’ IV wealth was generated in exactly the opposite way modern capitalists generate theirs. He simply expropriated his subjects’ property whereas a modern businessman accumulates profits from the goods and services he provides to willing customers. You’re looking only at half the picture. That which is good for workers – high wages, generous benefits and secure employment – is often bad for others as they result in high prices, high barriers to entry for startups/SMEs and nepotism which keeps able workers out of a job.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Robin

            “foresight to form contracts – and adult workers with competing priorities”

            These people formed voluntary contracts:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire

            Silly socialists thought the government should impose (impose!) safety standards but capital was opposed, they said, as they still do, that The Free Market always does the right thing and if that means that you jump or you burn, then that’s your free choice. It was also your free choice to stay away and either starve or prostitute yourself. The owners of Triangle were completely unapologetic.

            “He simply expropriated his subjects’ property”

            His economic model was the one that suited him best. As God-appointed sovereign, he owned everything anyway.

        • E. Olson says

          K – it sounds like you think that managers and business owners just sit around trying to think about how they might make the lives of their employers more difficult and painful? It costs a considerable amount of money to find and hire people for more and more jobs, because very few jobs these days are pure manual labor where the task can be learned in 5 minutes, so keeping good workers is in the interest of employers. Any regulations that make it more expensive to hire or fire workers will decrease the number of workers hired, and increase the discrimination that goes on with the hiring to avoid potential “trouble-makers”, which is sad because many of those “trouble-makers” might actually be good employees, but heavy regulations mean it doesn’t pay to take a chance on them. If you really want to protect workers, the best strategy to make the market work is to make sure cheap replacement workers are kept outside the borders, which even Leftists used to understand, but now they mandate expensive minimum wages, require expensive health care plans, and make it more difficult to fire workers and at the same time open the borders to let in millions of people willing to work for small wages.

          • K. Dershem says

            “It sounds like you think that managers and business owners just sit around trying to think about how they might make the lives of their employers more difficult and painful?”

            Nope, I think business owners are trying to maximize profits and returns to shareholders. Some may genuinely care about the well-being of their employees, but if their competitors reduce costs by slashing benefits, paying substandard wages, etc. they’ll be forced to follow suit in the absence of regulations that establish a level playing field.

            “It costs a considerable amount of money to find and hire people for more and more jobs, because very few jobs these days are pure manual labor where the task can be learned in 5 minutes, so keeping good workers is in the interest of employers.”

            Some companies (like Costco) invest heavily in their workers, offering relatively generous wages and benefits and receiving high levels of productivity and loyalty in return. Others (like most fast food companies) rightly regard their employees as being easily replaceable and build high turnover rates into their business model. Both approaches to management can be profitable; I would argue that the former is more ethical than the latter.

            “Any regulations that make it more expensive to hire or fire workers will decrease the number of workers hired …” True, which is why a balance needs to be struck between excessive regulations (e.g., France) and insufficient regulations that don’t protect the interests of workers. If we abolished all regulations, a lot more jobs would become available. Highly experienced workers with scarce, in-demand skills would be fine. Low-skilled workers would be paid poverty wages, receive minimal benefits, and face unsafe working conditions.

            “If you really want to protect workers, the best strategy to make the market work is to make sure cheap replacement workers are kept outside the borders …” There’s a great deal of debate among economists about the impact of immigration on wages. Very few seem to conclude that it’s a primary driver. See, for example, https://www.cato.org/cato-journal/fall-2017/does-immigration-reduce-wages. That said, I support comprehensive immigration reform that would crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. A well-managed guest-worker program would enable us to control the number of workers allowed into the country and prevent workers from being exploited by unscrupulous employers. As I argued in another post, I think the best way to protect workers is to expand labor unions.

            “Leftists … mandate expensive minimum wages, require expensive health care plans, and make it more difficult to fire workers …” There’s also a long-running debate about the effect of minimum wage laws. As cities and states pass laws mandating higher wages, we’ll have better data to guide policy. Preliminary analyses show mixed results, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/business/economy/seattle-minimum-wage-study.html. If employers don’t pay a living wage or offer health insurance, taxpayers are usually left to pick up the tab. Although I support programs like the EITC, SNAP, and Section 8, they effectively subsidize employers that don’t pay their employees enough to survive.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            It seems to me that the best thing you can do for workers is to simply keep labor is short supply. My view of a well run economy is one that makes people want to do the right thing rather than forcing them too. Thus I’d implement minimum wages if the alternative is poverty, but far better to have wages rise as business competes for a shortage of labor. In the same way I’d prefer vigorous measures to increase the housing stock over rent controls.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem

            “they’ll be forced to follow suit in the absence of regulations that establish a level playing field”

            The ‘race to the bottom’ and let’s not pretend that isn’t exactly what happens. We have a similar problem in some disaster like a flood when shortage causes a spike in prices that has no time to be corrected by ‘market forces’. Regulation is appropriate. Or when a flood of some commodity causes prices to collapse resulting in an unhealthy level of trauma for business, again because ‘market forces’ do not have time for an orderly shakeout.

            The Free Market is, frankly, a mad dog. The just-so story told about it is wonderful, but reality is rather different. The stock market is a casino with prices lurching up and down for no real reason. Commodity prices often do not rise and fall in some rational way that permits supply and demand to accommodate each other in a utility maximizing way, they boom bust boom bust in a way that is grossly inefficient.

            “Very few seem to conclude that it’s a primary driver.”

            I can’t see how flooding the country with peons who have no legal status can fail to drive down wages. Surely to God it has to?

            ” think the best way to protect workers is to expand labor unions”

            As a former shop steward in a public sector union I have mixed feelings about that. The union is a tool that permits labor some chance of a fair fight with management, but it ends up being a fight under capital’s rules — raw greed, huge disruptions, dog eat dog, win at any cost. I’ll take unions over nothing, yet having seen how disruptive that model is, I do pine for something better. The Swiss seem to have figured it out. Ditto the Japanese. In Germany the union sits on the board.

            “If employers don’t pay a living wage or offer health insurance, taxpayers are usually left to pick up the tab.”

            But good capitalists always externalize any costs that they possibly can, no? Capital, having no other morality than maximizing shareholder value, not only views the environment as a dumping ground it also views society itself as a dumping ground. But capital also needs the environment as a source of raw materials, and society as a source of labor and of markets. Thus, just as animals shit in their own water hole, so capital shits in the very environment — physical and social — that they need to sustain them. As Marx so correctly observed, capital will poison it’s own well if doing so produces a good quarterly report. In the competition with other businesses, the race to the bottom forces capital to sacrifice long term interests to short term survival even if the players in the game, as individual people, know perfectly well how insane that is. Was it Lenin who said that the capitalists would outbid each other for the contract to supply the rope that you hang them with?

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem

            BTW K, it is such a pleasure to discuss this with you since, as I also aspire to be, you seem to be immune to narrative worship. The lefties and the righties recite their mantras, we look for solutions.

          • E. Olson says

            K – you contradict yourself several times. You admit that higher employment costs lead to lower employment, but then state that the NYT says higher minimum wages don’t have clear effects on employment. Such statements in the Leftist media are always based on one highly flawed study done in Card and Krueger in 1992 who found a higher minimum wage did not reduce employment, but this finding is contradicted by dozens of other studies that find what you would expect when you make something more expensive (see links).

            You also provide an example of Costco as a business that treats their workers well, which in a competitive “race to the bottom” shouldn’t be possible as you suggest. In-N-Out Burgers is another example in the fast food industry that is also known for treating their workers well and is very successful in a very tough industry. Minimum wages hurt employment most for those with the least skills, because they just aren’t worth the cost to hire them, but almost no one who stays in the work force for an extended period stays at minimum wage (or starting wage) very long, because they demonstrate value which leads to higher wages if the employer doesn’t want to lose valuable employees to competitors who will pay better (i.e. Costco or In-N-Out). Shift managers, assistant managers, and managers in “low wage” industries such as fast food and retail typically earn good to very good salaries and benefits, and are most of the time people that started out at the bottom and proved to be valuable employees who received promotions for their performance. In the real world a firm simply can’t treat workers like crap and make a profit for very long.

            As for immigration and wages – there are think tanks on both the Left and Right that spend all of their time demonstrating that immigration doesn’t hurt workers, which happen to be funded by individuals and industries that want a continual stream of cheap workers and/or Democrat party run agencies that want a continual stream of new Democrat voters. Just like minimum wage, it makes no economic sense to suggest that loads of new workers can do anything but drive wages and benefits down.

            https://cafehayek.com/2013/02/sowell-on-card-krueger.html
            http://www.swcollege.com/bef/policy_debates/increase_minimum.html

          • K. Dershem says

            Ray: thanks for the kind words. Likewise!

            E.: I don’t think I contradicted myself at all. Reality is complicated; it doesn’t fit neatly into ideological boxes. As the Times piece shows, every policy has economic costs and benefits associated with it. It’s odd for you to claim that all arguments in favor of a higher minimum wage are based on a single 1992 study since the NYT article is about two more recent studies that produced inconsistent results. Hundreds of additional studies have been published since then, and economists are divided on the issue because the evidence is mixed.

            “A research team including economists from the University of Washington has put out a paper showing that Seattle’s recent minimum-wage increases brought benefits to many workers employed at the time, while leaving few employed workers worse off.

            On their own, these results appear unremarkable. Large stacks of academic papers have shown that, for the average worker, a minimum-wage increase does more good in raising pay than it hurts by prompting some employers to cut back on hiring or hours.

            But this new paper, issued Monday, has a unique pedigree: Last summer, the same authors released a paper showing that Seattle’s minimum-wage increases had large costs for workers.”

            As I wrote in my previous post, states and cities are currently conducting a kind of “natural experiment” by raising minimum wages in some areas and not others. Instead of assuming that we know what the outcome will be based on our ideologies, why not wait and see?

            “In the real world a firm simply can’t treat workers like crap and make a profit for very long.” This simply isn’t true. As I wrote, companies can succeed by following the Costco (or In-N-Out) model, but they can also succeed by regarding their workers as interchangeable and expecting high rates of turnover.

            “Just like minimum wage, it makes no economic sense to suggest that loads of new workers can do anything but drive wages and benefits down.” Again, reality is far more complicated than your ideology seems to allow. It’s disingenuous to appeal to studies conducted by partisan think tanks when they support your views but ignore or dismiss them when they contradict or complicate your position.

          • John Davis says

            “It costs a considerable amount of money to find and hire people for more and more jobs, because very few jobs these days are pure manual labor where the task can be learned in 5 minutes, so keeping good workers is in the interest of employers. ”

            Yeah, tell that to James Damore. Google decided that the positive PR benefits of firing him outweighed the cost of replacing him. It also sent a message to their other employees – express the wrong opinion and you’re gone. No warnings, no appeals.

  6. Ryan says

    This wouldn’t work. Think about all the disagreements we already have about the application of existing rights.

    It also wouldn’t have protected Dunmoore(spelling?) Google essentially cited protecting its female employees in firing him. Basically, what happens when the rights of one person, clashes with the rights of another? In this case the right of women not to be offended. It also seems to have been a major misunderstanding. Women at google claimed he said they couldn’t do their jobs, but really he said that women NOT at google were either less qualified, uninterested or would rather work part time.

    Unless you could guard against this misinterpretation, it won’t be effective. Really, we have to convince the country as a whole that view point diversity is valuable, that twitter mobs are powerless, and to give up an absolutist view of social justice.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @E. Olson

      Butting in here:

      “but this finding is contradicted by dozens of other studies that find what you would expect when you make something more expensive (see links)”

      Indeed. Tho I advocate for mechanisms to increase wages, I don’t fool myself that this will have no effect on employment, that does not make sense. It may very well turn out that workers’ increased spending power partially cancels the burden on business, thus keeping employment higher than one might at first expect, but the overall pressure must be downwards. In K’s defense, I think there are studies that point to this possible positive feedback and thus keep actual numbers in dispute.

      “in a competitive “race to the bottom” shouldn’t be possible as you suggest”

      Race to the bottom is a vector, but not an absolute determinant. That’s not fair, E. Race to the bottom is a very real problem, but it’s not the whole picture.

      “In the real world a firm simply can’t treat workers like crap and make a profit for very long.”

      If only it were true. It’s only an anecdote, but when my niece Dolly-darlin’ was offered a management position at Starbucks it came with a raise that was so small as to be an insult. She was so offended she quit. (Which, as you say, is what happens.) But when labor is scarce, your narratives work as advertised.

      “individuals and industries that want a continual stream of cheap workers and/or Democrat party run agencies that want a continual stream of new Democrat voters”

      Ain’t it the truth? Again, claims to the contrary are just not believable. Follow the money. That’s why neither Reps nor Dems have done much to control the border. It’s somewhat strange that it takes a guy like Trump to call the thing what it is.

  7. bumble bee says

    So we can boil this down to employers have control over what employees do during work hours and the rest of the time is ours. Well, that is the way it used to be. As long as people did their jobs, that was all that was asked.

    Unless one was a doctor, lawyer, or some other select group, work ended at the end of the day. One could engage in any activity, support any issue, do whatever they wanted without fear of any work related repercussions. Now that is not the case and has been this way for far too long.

    How did we get to where we are? Well there are numerous reasons, and they all hinge on money, specifically costs to the company. Everything has been monetized, up to and including how often one uses the restroom. Companies test their employees for drug use, including substances that are legal, as well as overall health to the point of paying employees who enroll in health programs and penalizing those who do not. All under the heading of costs disguised as benevolence for their welfare. Companies want to regulate people’s behaviors outside the company’s jurisdiction.

    Workers Bill of Rights should not just cover equal access to employment, but clear boundaries that limit employer encroachment outside work.

    • Stephanie says

      Bumblebee, I agree. If we were to accept the premise that employees need a Bill of Rights, then first on the list should be that employers do not have access to body samples of employees. It is hugely inappropriate that employers test for drugs that stay in people’s system for weeks – thinking pot in particular here. It is none of the employer’s business what employees do after work, legal or not. They aren’t the police and they have no right to dictate leisure activities.

      • Saw file says

        @Stephanie

        “first on the list should be that employers do not have access to body samples of employees.”
        Yes, and no.
        In most businesses, a mistake leads to a accounting/logistics/data error or maybe the incorrect toppings on a sandwich.
        In my industry (and some others) a mistake can potentially cause physical injury, maiming and/or death, or serious infrastructure damage.
        I’ll agree that in general, it’s no business of a company if an employee does legal or illegal drugs outside of the workplace, but if that activity encroaches into the workplace then it legally becomes the company’s ‘business’.
        I do not agree with pre-job or random testing but I fundamentally believe in post incident testing.
        As a supervisor in the industry I (we) need this vital primary information to help determine the cause of the incident so we can mitigate future recurrences.
        As a coworker in a very dangerous working environment, I want to know if the responsible worker(s) where impaired by alcohol or drugs.
        The tolerance for these on site is, and must be, zero. The current testing methods for impairment by cannabis is posing quite the conundrum though, now that it is legal (CDN).
        This is all part of legally mandated due diligence by both the company and the worker.
        I am somewhat undecided about forced serious post incident testing. As it stands now, testing cannot be forced. And the Law is vague because most job sites are essentially private property.

      • TarsTarkas says

        Mind-altering drugs, vehicles, and heavy machinery do not mix well. And I include booze and pot. Drug and alcohol tests aren’t done for moral reasons so much as to stay out of courtrooms or worse. It’s not cool from a business standpoint to find needles or used bongs in a truck that just came off rent, knowing that if it had been in an accident everybody in the company could end up losing their jobs or even their freedom.

  8. Roez says

    This analysis is woefully lacking. It starts with a premise that there’s a problem which needs resolution, without even making the case. Three examples? Internet? This reads more like, “I would like this type of thing personally, and let me take a couple emotionally charged examples to get you to agree” more than anything. How about an employer, boss and supervisor bill of rights.

    Beyond that, where are the practical considerations of enforcement: Costs, administration, adjudication? How about an affect on the economy? Economic mobility? New business costs? Do you have to implement measures to keep jobs from moving overseas, and not just state to state? The costs with this, including eventually lagging behind in technological advancement and knowledge base, are potentially devastating.

    • David of Kirkland says

      There’s nothing that suggests that if I start a business, and then I want to hire someone (they benefit by having the job that they applied for and accepted), that I ought to be restricted on who I pay to have around me all day long that will affect my livelihood and potential growth, even if their behavior, beliefs, dress and speech insult me or my other employees.
      Liberty doesn’t give you rights over me. Employment is a privilege, not a right. If it’s a right, then government can employ all who businesses don’t want to employ.

      • TarsTarkas says

        Government employ at whose expense? It better not be mind (or yours).

  9. Colin says

    I have concerns about the proposed ‘Amendment II: Right to Bear Arms’. The other proposals appear to attempt to counteract the growing ‘woke’ culture and political correctness movement which approve of employee dismissals because of the ‘mental’ distress, ‘hostile’ workplace, and/or negative customer impact that merely having opposing political or otherwise points of view would cause. This amendment seems more in line with that point of view and goes against the spirit of other proposed amendments. It can be interpreted as more of a political point of view contrary to the actually 2nd amendment.

    The constitutional right to bear arms and the related laws and regulations (gun type limitations, background checks, etc.) should provide the safe environment within society and by extension the workplace. This would also apply to those who have been convicted of violent crimes but are now back in society and thus deemed ‘safe’ to be in society and again, by extension the workplace. What right do employers have to usurp the rights of those bearing arms legally and those convicted felons who have ‘served their time’ and deem them unsafe in the workplace but not in society?

    As such, is not the Amendment II: Right to Bear Arms suggestion denying the societal right to bear arms just a way to alleviate the ‘mental’ harm and uncomfortable/hostile workplace that employees – presumable those more likely opposed to the right to bear arms – may feel by other employees legally possessing weapons or having ‘served time’? Is not the amendment just more regulations to further dilute the right to bear arms and thus essentially concurrent with gun control advocates? Might I go as far as to say its inclusion in the ‘Worker’s Bill of Rights’ can be considered pandering to that political point of view?

  10. Russ says

    Sure. Let’s violate the rights of one group of people to “help” another group of people. Who cares about freedom of association and freedom of contract as long as the “other” guys are hidden behind the facade of an “evil corporation.”

    Because ignoring the propriety of a means to obtain a desired end has always worked out so well in the past…

    • David of Kirkland says

      Yes, this is just coercive liberty, which isn’t a thing. Or forced morality, again, not a thing.

  11. MattK says

    I get tired of people who conflate a private company with a public corporation. They’re not the same thing and one wields far more power than the other in most cases. I’m much more in favor of regulating the latter than the former.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Untrue. There can be huge private companies, and small public ones. A public company says nothing more than you can purchase their stock on an exchange rather than being an accredited investor with limited access to stocks to purchase.
      Every public company that goes bankrupt proves their power is ephemeral or imagined.
      Bezos points out that Amazon will go bankrupt in the future. Why? Because all companies do.

  12. Alan Gore says

    A “Workers’ Bill of Rights” is a great idea, and brings up the question of why all those newly elected Democrats have said so little about worker rights, once a major portion of the party platform. And now that big companies are systematically depriving consumers of rights they once had, where are the old consumer-friendly Democrats?

    While the academic leftists quibble over fine shadings of identity, Democrats are missing an opportunity to, by giving workers and consumers back some of their lost rights now taken by pharma manufacturers, airlines and cable companies, come roaring back to popularity. But no – they are way out there in the blue fighting phony wars started by the academic left.

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      @A Gore

      How about reviving FDR’s ‘Second Bill of Rights’ from 1944?

      ‘….The Second Bill of Rights is a list of rights that was proposed by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 11, 1944. In his address, Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize and should now implement, a second “bill of rights”. Roosevelt’s argument was that the “political rights” guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness”. His remedy was to declare an “economic bill of rights” to guarantee these specific rights:

      Employment, food, clothing and leisure with enough income to support them
      Farmers' rights to a fair income
      Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
      Housing
      Medical care
      Social security
      Education......'

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights

      If FDR had completed his final term, maybe he would have been able to see these rights enacted by Congress

      • Stephanie says

        How would declaring housing, medical care, and a high income have made it so? South Africa did something similar and nothing of the sort happened.

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @Stephanie

          Please re-read the above quote and notice the word ‘implement,’ which in this case means taking concrete action on medical care, housing, etc. FDR’s plan wasn’t just empty rhetoric.

  13. Jim Gorman says

    I think the excuse of “being offended” as a reason to boycott, doxx, tweet, etc. should be a criminal offense of hate speech. If someone says I’m going to destroy your business with a boycott or tweets something because they “hate” your idea or thoughts then they are engaging in “hate” speech which should be illegal.

    There is too much “I don’t like your idea”, therefore “I hate you personally” stuff going on. It’s basically saying you can’t think or express ideas I don’t agree with. Shades of 1984 or Animal Farm. It should be criminal.

    Force folks to DEBATE ideas, not destroy people. Make them say “I don’t like your idea because …” rather than “I don’t like your idea therefore I don’t like you and will you think and act like I want”.

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      @Jim Gorman

      How about the bus boycotts of the 1950s that desegregated the seating on public buses in the American South? Would you have criminalized those?

      • K. Dershem says

        Good example. Consumers have the right to boycott (or “buycott”) a company for any reason they like. If I choose to avoid Chick-fil-A because I disagree with its owner’s position on samesex marriage — or you choose to eat there for the same reason — I don’t see how that qualifies as hate speech. Regardless, this kind of policy would be virtually impossible to enforce.

    • S. Cheung says

      Jim – doxxing is a separate category, cuz it potentially involves physical safety. But boycott is just a free market move. And that’s the difficulty I see with the author’s proposal. Sure, it protects the worker’s right to voice controversial ideas…but then when those ideas trigger certain tribes, and those tribes retaliate against the business owner with a boycott, now the business owner is stuck literally paying for his worker’s right to voice those ideas. And that’s not just. I can support a worker having protection for exercising speech when off the clock, but that worker shouldn’t have a protected right to damage his/her employer’s business, even if it is for off-the-clock actions.

  14. FreeSpeechLiberal says

    Another great article by Gideon. I have thought about similar issues many times. I have a fairly decent position in Silicon Valley, but I would be canceled the next day if I talked about them under my own name.

    I have two points to add. First, the word “political” in the free speech part sounds a bit limiting, and one may want to expand it to cover cultural, scientific and other ideas. James Damore was not trying to be specifically political in his memo; at least the parts that triggered people most were descriptive statements of scientific findings made by others. The person that was fired for mentioning (with good intentions) the N-word in an internal meeting was not trying to be political.

    Second, I think there may be ways to make progress short of federal legal action: worker unionization comes to mind. While in the past unionization served to increase salaries and protect from layoffs, who says we could not have new worker unions protecting us from our corporations (or academic institutions) from firing and blacklisting us for “thoughtcrimes” completely unrelated to job performance?

    • K. Dershem says

      I agree with both your points. Unions generally mandate due process for workers and provide protection against arbitrary termination. In contrast, most workers are at-will employees and can be fired for virtually any reason. They have no legal recourse unless their manager provides an explicitly discriminatory explanation for his/her decision (e.g., I’m firing you because you’re a woman). Companies obviously benefit from having more flexibility in hiring and firing decisions, but I think the needs of the company should be balanced with the rights of employees. Some unions make it too difficult to fire incompetent workers, which harms both the company and other (more competent, harder working) employees.

      • FreeSpeechLiberal says

        Yes, absolutely. The tradeoff between layoff protection and hiring flexibility is real and difficult. On the contrary, there seems to be no tradeoff in the proposed “free speech union” idea: it would protect the worker and also free the company from having to take sides on every random culture war issue. Imagine being able to say as a CEO, if an employee is mobbed for their statements: “Per our binding agreements with the worker union, we will not take any action against the employee, and will not discuss this issue any further.” Win-win.

        • K. Dershem says

          I think the content of the speech matters. What if an employee becomes an outspoken member of NAMBLA and publicly defends child molestation? I think a company would be fully justified in firing that person.

        • TarsTarkas says

          A law is only as good as its enforcement. We have laws against murder, but murder still occurs. More laws against murder or kinds of murder won’t change that.

  15. Peter says

    You would force every employer in the nation to operate its own kangaroo court? This does not seem to be working well for universities. The other option under your proposal is that employers simply fail to fire employees for even gross misconduct, which is obviously unworkable. Government bureaucracies can survive such policies, since they generally cannot go out of business – private employers can.

  16. Dominic Allaway says

    As an employment law caseworker in the UK I’m sympathetic to the gist of this article: it feels like workers are being unfairly punished for supposed discrimination when the discrimination in question is simply bogus or seriously exaggerated.

    However, although I only represent workers in my opinion this particular problem is harming employers too. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to explain to workers claiming discrimination by their ex/employer that their assertion that different or unfavourable treatment by their ex/employer was because of race, sex etc proves discrimination: there needs to be at least reasonable EVIDENCE that the treatment in question was because of race, sex etc before such a claim can be taken seriously. My explanation is often met with open mouths.

    Since the abolition of employment tribunal fees in 2017 the Employment Tribunals Service has become swamped by claims of discrimination. I’m convinced that one reason for this is that the definition of discrimination in the Equality Act 2010 is too wide and has and is encouraging many workers to see themselves as victims of discrimination when by any reasonable standard they’re not.

    Now the financial risk is virtually nonexistent people are free to inflict their almost psychotic sensitivity on employers and employment judges (& me!).

    Re specifics in the article:

    I’m baffled by the idea that a key workers’ right is ‘bearing arms’ in the workplace. I know the US has a gun culture but guns in the locker at work? Give me a break;
    Workers should be able to engage in political activity outside work within reason: if the political activity is for example consistent with the (broadly defined) mores of a democratic society;
    The notion that employers should be required to provide workers the time and space to conduct trials of other workers or managers is, to me, laregly a non starter: although there should be some due process it should be proportionate to what is at stake. Why should, for example, thousands of pounds be spent by an employer conducting a trial at work for someone who is part time and on minimum wage? And never mind the fact that the great majority of workers (& employers) will not have the first clue as to how to cross examine; in the wrong hands cross examination is a power easily abused.

    D.

    • Gideon Scopes says

      Just to clarify, I think that you may have misinterpreted my provision regarding the right to bear arms. Employers would be able to prohibit employees from bringing weapons into the workplace and to terminate employees convicted of gun crimes. The provision would only protect an employee’s right to carry a weapon on their own time, off the job.

      For the record, I support significantly stronger gun control than we currently have in the United States, but these decisions ought to be made by the people at the ballot box, not by corporations acting under pressure from the media.

      • Jay Salhi says

        Are there employers who try to tell employees they can’t carry guns off the job?

  17. Dominic Allaway says

    Re guns at work: in my view the burden of providing an explanation should be reversed. Employers should not be required to give reasons for prohibiting employees’ guns in the workplace, employees should be required to explain why they need a gun in the workplace in the first place.

    Bearing in mind:

    this burden would only fall on employees who own the guns they want to bring to work; so since eg cops don’t own their (work issued) weapons this burden would not fall on them. Cops’ guns are integral to their duties;
    an employee who asks to bring a gun to work is an employee an employer would be entitled to feel alarmed about: ‘why the hell do you want to bring a gun to your shift at Walmart?’

    Just my opinion. However, being a citizen of the large garden that is England rather than a continent like the USA maybe I’m losing something in translation.

    D.

    • Jay Salhi says

      Whether a gun is permitted in a place of employment should be at the complete discretion of the employer.

  18. Dominic Allaway says

    Related to this article but about criminal law:

    In my view all the hate crimes should be repealed. They’re unnecessary, unfair and divisive.

    They’re another reason, in my view, for the rise of victim culture.

    You know last yr we had police encouraging people to report ‘non crime hate incidents’ to the police?! Apparently it’s a gateway to actual hate crime…

    More like a gateway to Stasi-lite.

    D.

  19. Is that all you got? What about wage theft, workplace bullying, independent contractor classification abuse, forced overtime, arbitration agreements, non-compete agreements, benefit erosion, use-it-or-lose-it vacation time … I could go on! The author seems to be only concerned with identity politics. Wages weren’t mentioned at all in the article. Some bill of rights!

    • TarsTarkas says

      ‘Current regulation being insufficient to ensure an equitable and peaceful work environment, more regulation was called for’. Rinse and repeat. And they wonder why automation is now the big thing in unskilled and semiskilled labor situations.

  20. a bee ee? says

    “Nothing in this section shall prevent an employer from discharging an employee whose performance does not meet the company’s standards or laying off an employee whose position is being eliminated. In these cases, a hearing is not necessary.”

    The concept is terrific, but how are you going to prevent dismissal and other retribution from being made under color of the above?

  21. neoteny says

    As a result of this, there is currently a climate in which workers live under threat of being terminated from their jobs for reasons that violate their individual rights.

    The problem is that if an employer can be forced by law to offer — or continue to offer — a job to someone, then the employer loses her consumer sovereignty: the right to decide for any — or no — reason not to purchase a particular economic good: in this case the work services of the employee.

    How would those employees feel if, for example, there would be a company town, by law: i.e. their employer would provide shelter, energy, food, transportation & communications to its employees through a monopoly on these services? I’m pretty sure they would be up in arms. Yet essentially they demand this from their (would be) employers: they (try to) turn the opportunity of cooperating for mutual profit into a human right issue for the employees.

  22. Pingback: Towards a Worker’s Bill of Rights https://quillette.com/2019/03/21/… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)

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