Rejecting Grandpa’s Union

Good luck getting a recertification bill passed in a state legislature owned and operated by the California Teachers Association.

Republican California State Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, representing the 34th district (mostly Kern County), has come up a couple of interesting bills. (H/T Steve Frank.) AB 2753 would “require California’s public employee unions to post an itemized version of its budget online, making it accessible for its members.” A second bill, AB 2754, would “require public unions to hold an election every two years to determine if the current labor union should continue to represent its members. The election would also allow workers to select another public employee union to take its place.”

While both bills are laudable, I do see problems with AB 2753. There are too many money laundering tricks that unions can use for the bill to be truly effective. But AB 2754 is a doozy. It would make unions much more accountable to their members because they wouldn’t have an eternal mandate as they do now. The unions representing teachers and other public employees in California rose to power in the 1970s, and have never been recertified. How many current workers are still employed from that time? Few, if any.

Pennsylvania is also dealing with the issue. As Watchdog.org’s Evan Grossman writes, “Less than 1 percent of Pennsylvania public school teachers have formally approved of the unions representing them, and teachers unions from Erie to Philadelphia have not been elected by their members for more than four decades.” A policy brief from the Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank in the Keystone State, tackles the subject. “In presidential and congressional races, Americans are accustomed to selecting leaders every two to four years. For labor organizations, which affect every aspect of government employees’ working lives, regular elections should also be mandatory.” In fact, The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill McMorris writes, “there is a bill before the (Pennsylvania) state senate that would allow for regular recertification elections ‘no less than every four years’ or when collective bargaining agreements expire.”

Now it is true that a union can be decertified by its members, but it is an onerous process that is doomed to fail, especially in big cities where the unions are powerful. Patrick Semmens, a spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation, explains that regular recertification “would also remove obstacles that workers face when they try to decertify a union. The process can be derailed through stalling tactics and other procedural hurdles that ordinary workers face.” Semmens adds, “Regular recertification elections would be a positive step towards checking union forced dues powers.”

What happens when unions have to regularly recertify? In Wisconsin, Scott Walker’s Act 10 made unions go through the process on a yearly basis. Figures from 2015 reveal that over 100 public school unions in Wisconsin have voted to decertify in the past two years.

Now for the bad news. Getting any kind of union reform bill through the legislature in Sacramento, especially one that would interrupt the union’s gravy train, let alone derail it, has little chance of passage. Let’s face it – CTA pretty much owns the legislature. As former California State Senate leader Dom Perata has said, the union considers itself “the co-equal fourth branch of government.” Nevertheless, Ms. Grove is to be commended for her effort, and it will be interesting to see how the unions spread their poison in the legislature and, just as importantly, how they spin the bill to the public.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

3 replies
  1. Zuhp Aliser says:

    Our union has lied to us for 4 years. They told us the County we work for failed to negotiate. A PERB complaint was filed by our union. When the PERB decision returned, it was discovered our apathetic union and its director’s arrogance caused the impasse.

    We lost 9% of our wages in 2012. We lost another 4% this year as our union agreed to substandard contract knowing they had lost all bargaining power. Fresno County Employees have been paying this union more than $3,000,000 a year only to have our wages reduced by 13% and our health insurance increased by another 13%. These people work for us. Why can’t we fire them if they aren’t doing a good job?

    Please sign our petition AB2753 and AB2754 forces unions to become accountable by allowing us the ability to terminate them if they fail to competently represent us and access to their “REAL” financial records.

    PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AND SHARE! SHARE! SHARE!
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  2. Tough Love says:

    WOW, While I certainly do NOT wish you to have a STRONGER Unions, I’m extremely pleased that your current Union’s “issues” cause you to lose 13% in wages and incur a 13% increase in health insurance premiums.

    A few MORE years like those with (1) a 50% reduction in your pension accrual rate AND (2) a 10 year increase in your full/unreduced retirement age, AND (3) elimination of all COLA increases one retired …… and your “Total Compensation” will approach those of your Private Sector counterparts.

  3. Zuhp Aliser says:

    We have had no COLA increases and although many think our benefit packages are extravagant, they aren’t. I have a $3,000 deductible before my insurance starts paying for medications or doctors visits. Our employees starting wages begin at $10.50 an hour therefore wages are barely above minimum. Department heads are the ones who are compensated with fringe benefits such as free health insurance, a hefty retirement plan and salaries well over $110,000 a year. Frontline workers are merely peons living from check to check.

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