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It seems that with each new proposal from 2020 Democratic candidates, innumerable questions arise as to how much each will affect Americans’ autonomy. Unfortunately, with each issue discussed, the Democrats’ desire for the government to take away individuals’ ability to make decisions for themselves and restrict market forces becomes more apparent.
This general notion is dangerous because individuals are capable of self-regulating their own actions, but evidently, many of the candidates do not trust individual autonomy. Their “solution” is to establish overburdening regulation and control individuals and market forces to a stifling, harmful degree.
Democratic presidential hopeful Mayor Bill de Blasio, proposed one list of policies he would advocate for as president titled the “21st Century Workers Bill of Rights.” His “Just Cause for Termination: The Real Right to Work” proposal from this list intends to restrict many of the terms of firing that an employer and employee may agree upon. The proposal would “require that employers can only fire workers for failure to properly do their job and only after appropriate warning or due process.”
Firstly, it should be noted that the language used here misrepresents the true meaning of “due process” as it is constitutionally guaranteed in the 14th amendment. The due process clause protects individuals from unfair treatment by the government in the judicial system, stating that “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
It is clear that due process as a constitutional concept exists between state and citizen, yet Mayor de Blasio uses a warped definition in an attempt to place heavy restrictions on private employers to make termination decisions that make sense for their company.
Notably, such a policy would replace the commonly accepted at-will employment policy of many employers. Of course, even at-will policies, which allow employers to dismiss an employee for any reason, only apply insofar as the reason is not illegal. This means that they still hold employers subject to the basic and numerous anti-discrimination laws that have been on the books for decades.
Mayor de Blasio believes that his proposal would fix what he views as the unjust nature of the at-will policy. However, there is nothing more just than the agreement between two private entities as those two parties are able to negotiate on their own terms an agreement that both are satisfied with.
Therefore, on principle, the government having the power to regulate terms of agreements for people is unjust. Employers and employees are capable of making mutually beneficial voluntary agreements to work at the company or organization. But under Mayor de Blasio’s proposal, the terms for acceptable termination would be predetermined for both parties by big government regulation. Thus, it holds that the employers would be less likely to make risky choices when it comes to hiring decisions, when often such bold hiring and business choices can pay off the most for growth and innovation.
If employees can only be fired for “failure to properly do their job,” with heavy restraints on the ability of an employer to prove this, then employers will become cautious about the individuals they hire -- stifling much of the very innovation that drives our economy.
Further, the “Just Cause for Termination: the Real Right to Work” policy intentionally misrepresents the already established definition of right to work. “Right to work” is defined as the right of an individual to not be forced to join a union against his or her will. Mayor de Blasio seemingly wants to mislead others into believing that “right to work” should mean an employee’s right to not be fired.
Naturally, he would accomplish this by implementing government-mandated, unreasonably strict conditions under which an employer may fire an employee, far surpassing the scope of any anti-discrimination laws to date and representing a huge federal encroachment into the private sector.
Effectively, this policy takes away private employers’ ability to dismiss employees as they see fit within the confines of existing law. This would likely result in such cases as are seen in the federal government, where it is much more difficult to dismiss an employee due to the onerous process required to do so. Mayor de Blasio’s proposal moves the private sector ever closer to these processes, which in the public sector have resulted in one-in-500 odds according to the Government Accountability Office of a federal employee to be fired in a given year.
Such egregious cases as that of an EPA employee receiving seven and a half months paid leave after being caught and jailed for using illegal drugs in the workplace in 2014 as an EPA inspector reported certainly help to highlight the extreme negatives of onerous firing regulations.
Lest America find itself in a position where all private companies are run as inefficiently as the federal government, citizens need to be wary of individuals who say, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” It is clear that this is what Mayor de Blasio is trying to do with his “21st Century Workers Bill of Rights” and specifically its “Just Cause for Termination: The Real Right to Work” policy.
America should strive to make its public sector run more like its private sector, not vice versa.