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While Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees awaits a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, developments in California may clarify the issues involved. The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, a government employee union with more than 6,000 members, will levy a monthly charge of $6.50 to fund political activities. Union bosses are alarmed over “the election of Donald Trump,” as one told reporters. What about union members who are not alarmed by the election of Donald Trump? The union would still hit them up with the levy, so their own money would be used against them.
In similar style, government employee unions are currently able to slap “agency fees” on workers who are not members of the union. This practice forces workers to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government. In Janus, the high court will decide whether that confiscation continues, or whether employees have a right to work without joining a union. The default position of union bosses is that non-members are “free riders,” who benefit from the union without paying for it. This assumes that the worker has no merit beyond what union bosses negotiate for her with politicians.
The political spending of government employee unions is decidedly one-sided. The National Education Association, for example, favors Democrats by 93 percent. And government employee unions are not like unions in the private sector. They exist to implement government policy, which is why politicians cut them sweet deals, and union bosses claim the legislature is “our house.” CalTrans pays more than 3,000 members of Professional Engineers in California Government just to sit around. Those are the real “free riders.”
Meanwhile, with Neil Gorsuch in place, the high court could well rule in favor of the right to work, and against union confiscation. But whatever the decision in Janus, government employee unions are a bad deal for taxpayers and non-members alike.