Free rider is a term coined by the unions. It is designed to cast negative aspersions on those of us who choose not to join the union, but benefit from the bargaining in which the union engages. We are supposedly not paying our fair share of the costs to have our contracts negotiated.
Here's the problem. It was the unions who lobbied to become the sole bargaining power in the first place.
So step 1, convince the employer that no one else should be able to bargain for their own compensation. Step 2, label anyone who doesn't want to pay you to be their agent a "free rider". Step 3, force them to pay for the representation that you didn't want in the first place.
What is the solution?
I don't know. I can see the difficulty in each employee reaching their own agreement, but on the other hand, that is exactly what has happened in every job I have ever had outside of the military until I became a teacher.
Let me throw one small example out about how I have not been well represented by the collective bargaining that I was forced to pay for. A certain amount of money is allocated for each employee for health care costs. Each employee then gets to choose which plan they want. If the plan costs more than what is allocated, they pay the extra out of pocket. Fair enough.
I chose a Health Savings Account plan. It costs significantly less than the allocated amount. Guess what happens to the balance. If you guessed that I don't see a penny of it, you guessed right. It goes back into the "pool" to defray the costs of everyone else's health care. I lose about $300 a month ($3600 a year) that should be a part of my compensation. Why do I get this great deal? Because the union is the sole negotiator of contracts and that is what they negotiated.
I'll throw up another post soon about the problems with "employer based health care" and why it isn't the best option. I'll also throw in the teaser that it also isn't the "Republican" plan as I've heard mentioned recently as we ramp up the rhetoric for election season. It is the default dating back to WWII. Guess who was the President then. I'll give you a hint, he didn't have an (R) after his name.