California’s Union Ballot Initiatives

It isn’t fair to criticize California’s conservatives for failing to back public sector union reform initiatives (ref. “The Conspiricy of Cowardice“) without acknowledging the power of the opposition. Earlier this year, commentator George Will called California a “unionocracy,” in an attempt to describe the power wielded by public sector unions over California’s government. Republican lawmakers in California, off the record, have stated the public sector unions exercise “absolute power” over California’s legislators. And why wouldn’t they? Every month, well over a million unionized public sector workers in California have a portion of their paycheck automatically deducted for union dues, and significant portions of these funds are used for political lobbying and independent expenditure campaigns. In aggregate, the amount of money available to these unions, who don’t have to ask anyone for a cent, overwhelms any candidate who won’t play ball.

There are far reaching consequences to politicians not standing up to California’s public sector unions because they will lose access to their campaign donations or become targeted by them. By controlling the politicians, public sector unions control legislation and they control the agencies. Businesses who do business with California’s state and local governments are understandably wary of antagonizing the public sector unions, since they make or break the politicians who supposedly oversee the agencies. Would anyone risk angering officials are all members of these powerful unions, people who can shut down their business or deny them a contract? One businessperson told me that the [...] Read More