In Which Rubio is Mistaken

The Senate passed a bill mandating a labor agreement agreed by railroad companies, management teams of a dozen rail unions, and the rank-and-file of most of those unions be imposed on all of those unions and railroad companies. The bill also barred a rail union strike.

In a separate vote, the Senate failed to pass a bill imposing a number of paid sick leave days for union employees on the rail companies.

Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) is dismayed.

When workers are treated as little more than line items on a spreadsheet, they become indistinguishable from the freight cars they service….


…the measure only granted rail workers one day of paid sick leave all year—a stipulation that Rubio said “underwhelmed and alienated the men and women doing the hard work.”


Congress…told rail workers to suck it up and be grateful. We should have worked to meet the demands of the workers instead of appeasing labor leaders and companies.

Most, if not all, of that likely is true.


It doesn’t matter how much any of that might seem like a good idea, or might even be a good idea, over the duration of a contract. It’s not government’s job to set the work compensation parameters for employers and their employees. Most especially, it is not government’s job to meet the demands of the workers. It’s government’s job to set the market conditions within which employers and employees can negotiate those parameters freely.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) wasn’t far off with his dig at Rubio: I always knew you were a socialist.

Government is a system of men and women, not an entity in itself. What those men and women might think is a good idea will vary over time for those men and women and certainly will vary as different men and women come into government from time to time. We need only see how government “good ideas” vary as Republicans or Progressive-Democrats are in ascendance from one Congress or administration to another.

At most—at most—where a national risk is in play (for instance, a steel worker industry-wide strike or lockout, or a nation-wide rail strike or lockout), government might require the two sides to settle through binding arbitration a disagreement they can’t settle through negotiation. With the arbiters chosen by the two disputants, not by government.

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