The Next Battle in the Fight for Worker Freedom in California
As PRI has documented extensively, last year’s landmark Janus ruling has not stopped California’s public employee unions from continuing to siphon off dues from disaffected members.
Our Kerry Jackson has written that, “long before the Janus ruling was announced, California lawmakers, many of whom have been widely criticized as being wholly owned by the public employee unions, were busy introducing bills that are intended to allow unions to make an end run around the court.”
Indeed, several measures were enacted in the run up to and immediate aftermath of Janus to make it as difficult as possible for Californians to exercise their right to opt-out of paying union dues and quit the union. It’s clear that Janus will not be the last lawsuit in the fight for worker freedom.
Recently, our friends at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the efforts of the United Domestic Workers to “unlawfully restrict (their members who are homecare providers who receive Medi-Cal payments for serving the disabled) from stopping payments of union dues and fees.”
According to the lawsuit, the UDW got many of its members to sign union membership cards that prohibit union members from stopping mandatory fee deductions except during a very narrow timeframe once a year.
Recently on PRI’s “Next Round” podcast, Samuel Coleman of the Freedom Foundation told us that their “canvassers work across the state to visit workers where their union presence is most notable – at their workplace.”
As the lawsuit shows, most public employees are confused about the process to quit the union, which varies by union organization and by local. Many do not even know about the Janus decision or the rights available to them.
Coleman said that when they talk to disaffected union members, “these unions have been very deceptive with how they’ve gone about informing public workers about the Janus decision. They make it sound like if you opt out, you’re going to lose everything. That’s just not true.”
The message of the Freedom Foundation might be more receptive to UDW members because of the sheer cost of the union does. UDW membership is generally not making big money as many are simply being paid to provide home health care for a loved one.
As Coleman says, “most public workers we speak to, and who we explain this to, they’re happy to hear it. They’re happy to hear that they can save this money, that’s extra food on the table, that’s rent.”
Given their low salaries, many home health care workers may welcome the opportunity to exercise their rights and keep several hundred dollars in their own pockets each year to spend on their families. As our Rowena Itchon recently wrote, annual savings from opting out of the union could multiply into significant amounts if saved and invested over 20 years or more. You can click here to calculate how much you would save.
Unfortunately, it looks like it may take another favorable Supreme Court ruling for these workers to be able to finally take back control of their paychecks.
Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.