We have lived in California for over 30 years. During that time the unions have gained more and more power. Today, every elected statewide office is a union supported liberal democrat. Those of you living in more civilized states might be surprised to learn that Governor Jerry (“Moonbeam”) Brown is more conservative than anyone likely to replace him. The 2016 Senate race was between two extremely liberal democratic women. The most liberal woman, Kamala Harris, won.
This has all been possible because of the power of public sector unions. There are reports that 18% of public sector union employees are in California. Employee do not have to join the union, but they still must pay union dues. This is under the fair share theory, where even employees who despise the union are required to pay the cost of running the union, because theoretically the union benefits everyone.
In 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education the Supreme Court distinguished between two kinds of compelled payments. The court agreed that forcing nonmembers to pay for a union’s political activities violated the first amendment. But the court also said that non-members could be required to help pay for the union’s collective bargaining efforts because it allegedly benefited everyone.
Janus vs American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees argues that forcing non-members to pay any union dues violates the First Amendment because almost everything the union does is political. Shortly after Justice Scalia died, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on this issue. If he had not died, the court would probably have ruled against unions. Most people expect Judge Gorsuch to vote with conservatives, breaking the tie.
Perhaps the most significant exchange was by Justice Kennedy. He pointed out, correctly that when union attorneys argued that ending fair share fees would harm union power they were admitting this included political power.
Kennedy: “If you do not prevail in this case the unions will have less political influence, yes or no?”
AFSCME attorney David Frederick admitted that this was true even though fees don’t go toward political causes.
Kennedy: “Isn’t that the end of this case?”
So how bad is this? The Sacramento Bee is seldom right about anything, but this time they nailed it.
“Everything is at stake: California unions brace for a Supreme Court loss”
Unions that operate in both “right to work” and “fair share” states say the shift could drive down membership by 15 percent to 30 percent.
Several months ago, I wrote a blog called: “What Color is California”. A lot of people are assuming that California is permanently a liberal democratic state. The reality is that everything moves in cycles and the political climate in California is equally subject to change. Even the Sacramento Bee has figured that out.