Freedom Foundation

Newsome’s Follies: Union-Friendly Bills the Governor Signed

(And A Few So Bad Not Even He Could)

More than 1,000 bills passed through the California State Legislature and were sent on to the governor’s desk this year, multiple coming directly from union-introduced or supported ideas.

Among these were expansions onto the current model of collective bargaining, standardizing union release time, regulating hospital closures, re-evaluating tax credits and exemptions without a sunset date, establishing a state Office of School-Based health programs and a slew of other policy points.

While Gov. Gavin Newsome is notorious for his chummy relationship with unions in California, he did pull the leash a bit this year by vetoing several bills that came to his desk.

SB 468, a bill meant to re-evaluate tax credits and exemptions that do not have a sunset date, was an important policy proposal championed by the California Teachers Association (CTA). This bill is part of a greater strategy to repeal Prop. 13, a beloved policy in California which keeps property taxes on businesses and homes relatively low.

The bill establishes an independent review board that would aim to assess major tax expenditures, looking at the following areas — property tax law, sales and use taxes, personal income tax, corporation taxes, motor vehicle fuel taxes and a variety of other sectors of taxation.

While it’s unclear exactly what this independent review board would be doing, other than finding a new way to reach into your pocket, research conclusions would most likely be used a pretext to initiating action against Proposition 13. Attacking the measure has always been politically unpopular, which is likely why he vetoed this legislation.

AB 258, a bill that would have provided grants to school districts for additional student support services, was also championed by the CTA. While students do deserve the best education we can provide, this bill was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Janus v. AFSCME affirmed public employees’ right to cease paying union dues, the CTA has been looking for new ways to pad their membership. Support service employees, such as librarians, counselors and nurses, are often also represented by the CTA. By pushing for an increase in these non-educational services, the CTA is essentially holding a recruitment drive.

Perhaps questioning the need for an increase in non-educational job titles, this bill was vetoed, as well.

Finally, and perhaps the most treasured by the CTA, was a bill that would have standardized taxpayer-funded union release time. In the current climate, public agencies bargain with unions in order to set up models for paid release time, ideally a collaborative effort between the union and the public agency.

This allows for public agencies, and unions alike, to bargain for their needs instead of having a “one size fits all” approach dictated to them. It’s also another part of the bargaining process, a give and take between the needs of employees and the realities of what the agency can provide.

AB 314 would have mandated a certain number of releasable hours per month. We say a certain number because the bill does not make it clear what the number would have been.

Would it have been one hour per month? 100 hours per month? Your guess is as good as ours.

Seeing the value in allowing public agencies to bargain for this on their own, the bill was vetoed.

At this point Newsome appears to be an enemy of the unions, right?

Wrong. While the governor may have vetoed a handful of bad bills, dozens more were signed. These include, to name a few:

AB 5 – A bill to reclassify, and threaten to work status, of more than 2 million private sector employees by making it nearly impossible to hire or employ independent contractors without violating state law (SEIU).

AB 378 – A bill that would allow SEIU to forcefully unionize more than 40,000 child care workers (SEIU).

AB 1505 – A bill that would further scrutinize charter schools, making them more difficult to open (CTA).

Biannual budget – Signed off on increasing public education spending by more than $2.7 Billion (CTA).

You may look at the bills signed by Gov. Newsome and wonder what they will cost you, or how they will affect your freedom as a public employee or private citizen. Don’t worry about that, Newsome has you covered with other important policy decisions, like being able to eat roadkill.