If the leaders of California’s government employee unions were wondering where the Freedom Foundation would pop up in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, they got an emphatic answer in the first days of October.
In your face.
For the preceding four years in Washington, then Oregon and finally California, the organization’s paid canvassers had fanned out across the state explaining the nuances of an earlier court ruling, Harris v. Quinn, that allowed Medicaid-compensated home caregivers to opt out of all union dues and fees.
Much to the annoyance of union leaders, that is, who left no dirty trick un-played in their quest to keep their “members” from understanding or exercising their newfound rights.
This past summer, the Supreme Court increased the stakes of the game by many orders of magnitude by extending the same right-to-work protections to all public employees. Consequently, rather than contacting individual caregivers one at time in their own homes, the Freedom Foundation has begun staking out California state office buildings where hundreds or thousands of public employees can hear the message together.
Not surprisingly, even though the campaign has only been in motion for a few days, the response to it has been overwhelming.
Among the comments to our leafletting campaign:
– “Thank you so much! I’ve been waiting for you guys to show up here!”
– “I was an agency fee payer for years; I was happy that I could finally fully leave!”
– “I used to love my union, but I hated their political spending. I wish there was an alternative, but I don’t see any way to stay with them in good conscience.”
Hundreds of state and municipal employees flocked to our canvassers over the past few days to receive information they had never been given. Information provided by their unions typically came with caveats – you will lose your healthcare, wages, paid time off and all gains made by workers in the last 60 years if you stop paying union dues.
None of this is true, of course, and our canvassers were quick to dispel these myths. If you decide to opt out, you keep everything that is in your collective bargaining agreement. Your wages, healthcare, paid time off and your dignity as a worker all stay the same.
One union representative who approached our canvassers asked, “So what happens if everyone decides to stop paying union dues?” and I have an answer for that person today. Should that day ever come, public workers may be allowed to finally choose their own fate.
Instead of taking handouts from big unions, individuals could finally bargain based on their merits, talents and abilities.
Here is a curveball the national unions failed to consider: Public workers could create local-only unions instead. Local unions, made up only of members from their own workplace, would be far better equipped to handle issues that directly impact them.
Instead of leaning on national unions who have their eyes set on political agendas, public workers could bargain for the issues that apply directly to them.
Either way, public workers can finally have their own voice in choosing their future. Our canvassers are more than equipped to help public workers make the important decisions, and the Freedom Foundation will continue to fight for the rights of workers to choose for themselves.