Apropos the debate (and growing specter of violent protest by unions and their liberal allies) in Michigan over right to work legislation, let me direct your attention to Free Choice for Workers: A History of the Right to Work Movement, by George Leef, which may be the single best thing I've read on the subject.
As Harry Hutchison explains in his review, Compulsory Unionism as a Fraternal Conceit?,
With the publication of Free Choice for Workers: a History of the Right-to-work Movement, George Leef offers a prudential basis tied to experience, coupled with informal logic, implicating ultimate values in order to reexamine compulsory labor unions and to contest the justification offered in support of labor laws. Leef’s perspective delegitimizes compulsory unionism on ethical and empirical grounds. … Demonstrating that statutory compulsion fails to direct society down the pathway to progress, the book reveals that the road to serfdom can often be paved by bureaucratic regulation. Carefully examining history and contemporary events, this book contributes to the richly textured debate about the normative role of unions in a putatively free society. … Leef’s book provides a historical appraisal that assists society in learning from the past. The book explicates the capacity of principled ideals, embedded in fearless individuals, to trump historical tendencies favoring privileged and entrenched autocracies. Aptly appreciated, George Leef’s reassessment offers an essentially contractarian and liberal model of labor relations that rests on a vision of individual rights which have a clearly defined, independent existence predating society. From this perspective, Leef specifies liberty as a desirable good in and of itself which is placed in harm’s way by progressive ideals and constructs. In the essay that follows, … I contend that Leef supplies a strongly theoretical (if incomplete) as well as a highly pragmatic argument against the tendency to see government as the solution to the “labor problem.”