For lovers of freedom, living in California can sometimes feel like a losing battle. Teachers unions run the schools (or, more recently, ensure they don’t run), Sacramento politicians refuse to grant hearings to minority bills, and high taxes and excessive regulations are forcing more and more of our neighbors and family members to pack up their homes and move east.
But this weekend, as we join our nation to celebrate the start of this great American experiment and a country founded on freedom, be encouraged by the many examples of ordinary Californians who’ve taken on big government and, against all odds, won!
Take, for example, the parents in the Desert Sands Unified School District, who came together to reopen their schools, in spite of union demands that they remain closed. In April, the board of education reversed its earlier plans to reopen schools when the union protested, saying its members were too exhausted to fully return to the classroom. The parents immediately swung into gear, holding a rally outside the district’s offices, and then taking their message that kids need to be in class directly to the board of education. Within a week, the school board again reversed course, this time in favor of students. Schools in Desert Sands reopened their doors to students four days a week, thanks to the tireless efforts of parents – including members of CPC’s Parent Union – who took back control of their schools.
Even in Sacramento, parents were able to make a difference, stopping a bill that would have gutted charter schools and stripped children of one of the few educational oases to thrive during the COVID-19 school closures. Union-elected politicians proposed Assembly Bill 1316, a bill that would have effectively destroyed online charter schools by stripping their funding and restricting their ability to provide unique, tailored educational offerings to students. Parents rallied, launching an extensive informational campaign across the state. When it came time to hear from the public during a Sacramento hearing on the bill, dozens of parents, students, and educators spoke up against the legislation, leaving only three union reps to speak favorably of the bill. Ultimately, lawmakers shelved the bill at least for this year, thereby preserving some educational choice that families so desperately need.
Despite union-backed politicians in Sacramento passing a flurry of laws to prevent workers from learning about and exercising their new Janus rights that allow them to stop paying unions, we were still able to help educate workers about their rights. In the past three years alone, over 300,000 individual government employees left the union! They’ve done so thanks to the ongoing educational campaigns by the California Policy Center and other groups, and the litigation support when unions refuse to honor their choice to leave. Not only has each of these workers taken their hard-earned dollars back from union coffers (totalling approximately $240 million each year they are keeping for themselves and their families), they’ve taken back their voice. Unions no longer speak for them, or use their money to fund the extreme politics destroying California.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued a ruling restoring property rights that had long been lost in favor of unions. In a 6-3 vote, the court struck down a California law that had required landowners and food processors to allow union organizers onto their property. The court found that the “right of access” rule was a violation of property rights under the U.S. Constitution. “The right to exclude is one of the most treasured rights of property ownership,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his opinion. Thanks to the case brought by our friends at the Pacific Legal Foundation, California property owners like Mike Fahner, owner of Cedar Point Nursery, may no longer be forced to allow someone, even union organizers, onto their land or into their businesses
Of course, we can’t celebrate the little guy without mentioning the grassroots effort to successfully put Governor Gavin Newsom up for a recall vote later this year. As CPC’s Ed Ring wrote about last week, the volunteer army that gathered more than 2.1 million (of the needed 1.5 million) signatures to put the governor up for recall did so against all odds, and on a shoestring budget. The recall election wasn’t supposed to happen, but frustrated Californians took to the streets, knocked doors, and got the word out. Now, Governor Gavin Newsom will have to answer for his for-me-but-not-for-thee attitude, and harmful policy decisions that forced businesses to close and the economy to shrink; allowed schools to keep their doors closed to students well beyond what public health officials deemed necessary; enabled the homeless to overtake neighborhoods and cities; and fueled the California exodus. Rumblings that this same grassroots coalition is working to put a school choice initiative on the 2022 ballot are getting louder, signaling freedom is making a comeback in California yet.
In honor of Independence Day, we’re taking a break from our usual list of news highlights (don’t worry, they’ll be back next week). This weekend, we hope you’ll join us in reading some of the following essays celebrating freedom and reflecting on why it’s worth fighting for.
Independence Day reading
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