September 20, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Opinion: ‘Janus’ Could Change CA Politics

 

 

Few California primary elections in non-presidential election years have been so anticipated as the one that starts soon, with millions of mail-in ballots arriving in mailboxes long before the official June 5 Election Day.

This vote will yield clues about who will replace Gov. Jerry Brown and begin a new era in state politics. It could also give strong inklings about whether Dianne Feinstein’s long tenure in the U.S. Senate will continue.

Another June event may prove even more important to the future of California’s public affairs. This will come about mid-month, when the U.S. Supreme Court is due to deliver a decision in the landmark Illinois case of Janus vs. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The case gets its name from Mark Janus, a child-support specialist with his state’s child welfare agency who is challenging the right of the American Federation of State and Muncipal Employees (AFSCME), a huge public employee union, to collect money from workers who don’t share its political views and aren’t union members.

This case echoes the 2016 California case of Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Assn., where Anaheim elementary school teacher Rebecca Friedrichs challenged the CTA’s right to collect money from her.

If Janus wins, politics and civic life in California could change dramatically. For decades, public employee unions have been a driving force in this state’s politics, financially and in providing campaign manpower. They are one big reason for the Democratic dominance in virtually all aspects of state government.

 

Unions also have driven very tough contract bargains, empowered in part by their huge political influence, which sees officials from Brown down through legislative leaders and key members of many county boards of supervisors back them strongly.

Back in early 2016, when the Friedrichs case was argued in Washington, D.C., it was fairly obvious after oral arguments and public discussion by the U.S. Supreme Court that unions would lose on a 5-4 court vote. But Justice Antonin Scalia then died suddenly in a hunting lodge and the court deadlocked, letting unions continue to collect “agency fees” from non-members who are nevertheless covered by contracts they negotiate.

Like Friedrichs, Janus argued this spring that this infringes on his First Amendment rights. And it was again obvious after oral arguments and comments by court members that unions would likely lose on a 5-4 vote, with new Justice Neil Gorsuch replacing Scalia.

One typical comment indicating how this will likely go came from the court’s frequent swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy. He blasted unions for advocating “massive government, increasing bonded indebtedness, increasing taxes.”

Recognizing that a Janus/Friedrichs win is virtually certain, Brown and union-allied legislators created a state law giving public employee unions the right to meet and sign up new workers at least every 120 days. Union leaders said this is crucial for them, as they expect soon to need to shore up worker solidarity.

But things may not go quite as desired by the big business interests (including major Republican donors like Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries) who have bankrolled both Janus and Friedrichs.

Forced union dues from non-members may stop, but as they do whenever their backs are to the wall, unions can be expected to become more militant. This could mean many more public employee strikes, including bus and light rail drivers, sanitation workers, Department of Motor Vehicles clerks, court workers, Caltrans road repair workers and many more.

That would be the end of a long era of labor peace essentially brought about by unions’ political domination. For unions may believe they need to drive ever tougher bargains in order to increase worker loyalty and drive membership up.

Plus, the movement away from compelling payment from those who don’t like what’s being done with their money could spread. There could be new objections to bar association dues, student fees, continuing education for doctors and other professionals and other currently required expenses that have essentially been justified by the same arguments as agency fees.

There could even be more tax resistance on free-speech grounds from persons opposed to government policies.

So Janus, like Friedrichs, is a potential can of worms, a Pandora’s Box whose backers and the Supreme Court may come to regret having opened.

 

Related Posts

4.6 Quake Felt in Santa Monica

September 19, 2020

September 19, 2020

4.6 magnitude quake recorded Friday night By Sam Catanzaro A 4.6 magnitude earthquake struck the San Gabriel Valley Friday sending...

Edify TV: Miramar Santa Monica Redevelopment

September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020

The Santa Monica skyline may look different in the future with a major redevelopment of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel &...

‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ Mansion For Rent On AirBnb

September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020

Today on Westside Cribz, 30th anniversary of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” Airbnb is renting out the mansion for...

SMMUSD Kindergarten Enrollment Down 20% : Santa Monica Beat – September, 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * SMMUSD Kindergarten Enrollment Down 20% * As Covid-19 Cases Drop Will...

Edify TV: Sit-down Dining Safety?

September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

Despite a recent CDC report stating the risks of in-person dining, many Westside restaurant patrons feel the experience is safe....

Sur La Table Closing Santa Monica Location

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

1930s building listed for lease By Sam Catanzaro Sur La Table, the popular kitchenware retail chain, is closing its downtown...

Death by Suicide at Santa Monica Place

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Man dies by suicide Wednesday morning By Sam Catanzaro A man died by suicide at Santa Monica Place mall Wednesday....

Santa Monica Partners With Local Elementary Schools to Provide More Outdoor Spaces

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Playground Partnership agreement goes live By Toi Creel The City of Santa Monica and local schools are working together to...

Charges Filed Against Man for Sexually Assaulting Elderly Victims

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Juan Victor Mendoza faces four felony charges Prosecutors have filed charges against a man for sexually assaulting elderly victims at...

COVID-19 Continues to Decrease in County but Air Quality Reducing Testing

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

Smoke advisory in effect through Wednesday By Sam Catanzaro While COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in Los Angeles County, health...

Edify TV: Westsiders Working out Amid Poor Air Quality

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

With poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, local health officials are urging the public to avoid outdoor activity but...

COVID-19 Could Have Been in Area as Early as Last December

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

UCLA study reports significant increase in coughs and acute respiratory failure prior to first official cases of COVID-19 By Sam...

Willy California Wants Men to Rethink Their Closet

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

Local clothing line reimagines athleisure By Toi Creel With ranges in styles for men’s clothing from suits and professional clothing...

Police Searching For Robbery Suspects: Santa Monica Beat – September, 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Police Searching For Robbery Suspects * Should School Board Representatives Have...