Who Owns the Job?
By Cecil Grove
Labor bosses, presuming to speak for all union members, maintain that
jobs are owned by the workers. Although the claim is seldom made in
such plain terms, when unions go out on strike, making use of threat
and violence to prevent anyone else from doing the jobs they have just
refused to perform, it is evident that both union leaders and members
consider jobs to be the property of the unions.
on the other hand, tends to argue just the reverse. Pointing out that
it is the company or corporation which does the employing and furnishes
the necessary capital involved, management contends that the job belongs
to the company or corporation.
of course, goes them all one better. Regulating both employees and employers
and taking its "cut" off the top in taxes, government acts
on the assumption that it owns, not only the job, but the human beings
involved, as well.
is the truth of the matter? Who, indeed, does
own the job?
as usual, when you ask the wrong question, you are likely to get the
truth, no one owns a job. A job is something to be done, not
something to be owned. A job is not property. And only property can
that, we believe, puts the entire question into its proper perspective.
can now ask, not who owns the job, but who owns the property involved
and who should control it?
employee, as the owner of his own body, life and energy, is the only
proper authority to decide how his property should be used.
with the employer. As the owner of the property his capital has bought
and paid for (buildings, tools, equipment, etc.), he is the only proper
authority to decide how his property should be used.
the job done involves a coming together of the two and the use
of the property involved on a basis mutually acceptable to the owners
how is this accomplished? The process occurs in the market place based
on the principle of voluntary exchange - a place where, and a process
in which, owners come together and peacefully decide to exchange
what is theirs.
then, should do the job? The answer comes fast and clear: the
owner who can, and will, do it to the satisfaction of the owner
with whom he makes the voluntary exchange; both of whom, in a free market,
would be free to seek other
owners who might do it better.
[Reprinted by permission of
Connie Steele, email of December 9, 2010 of THE GAZETTE, Colorado Springs
CO. This article first appeared on the editorial page of THE GAZETTE
TELEGRAPH (published by Freedom Newspapers, Inc.), July 21, 1974. Mr.
Grove was editorial writer in charge of the editorial page.]