Ocean State Current alumnus Kevin Mooney takes a look at the government union landscape a year after the Janus ruling:
One year after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus case, supporters have good reason to be concerned about “anti-Janus” legislation at the state level, the Mackinac Center’s [Vinnie] Vernuccio said.
But, Vernuccio said, right-to-work advocates also have good reason to be encouraged about the long-term prospects for employee freedom because the ruling explicitly says government employees should be permitted to “opt in” and offer “affirmative consent” before union dues or fees are deducted from their paychecks, rather than having to “jump through hoops” to opt out.
“A critical part of the Janus ruling says that everything the union does is political,” Vernuccio told The Daily Signal. “That’s why the ‘opt in’ question is so important, and I think it’s the next major battle.”
The political nature of government labor unions is implicit in the fact that their direct job when securing benefits for their members is influencing the actions of elected officials, but that’s not all. The political nature of unions also appears in their activities on matters wholly unrelated to their ostensible purpose. Here’s Alexandra DeSanctis, writing on National Review Online:
Over the weekend, the National Education Association adopted a new “business item” declaring its support for “the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.” The NEA is the most influential teachers’ union in the United States, and with more than three million members is also the nation’s largest labor union of any kind. …
The statement outlining Business Item 56 doesn’t even make an attempt to articulate why the NEA has a stake in the abortion debate at all. It merely takes for granted that, as an influential left-wing organization, the group must necessarily champion the entire progressive agenda. This is a growing tendency on the Left, as “intersectional” thinking takes hold — the idea that each interest group within the broader progressive movement has a responsibility to embrace and advocate the particular interests of the rest.
It varies from local to local and union to union, and depends on the culture of particular occupations, but very often one gets the impression that the unions see as their reason for being the advancement of left-wing politics. Member services is just the means by which they collect revenue and gain influence. Back to Kevin Mooney’s article:
“It is telling that the [California Teacher Association’s] response to teachers wanting to leave the union is not to reconsider the policies and activities that made the teachers want to leave in the first place,” Karen Sweigart, a lawyer with Freedom Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal about the California Teachers Association. “Instead, the CTA is content to further alienate teachers by continuing to take money from nonmembers against their will.”
One can think of this in terms of the abysmal news out of Providence schools and the legislation that arguably allowed disruptive behavior to spin out of control there. Where were the unions protecting the workplace environments of their members? Why aren’t they defending teachers against the implicit accusation that they’re racist and can’t apply subjective discipline?
Well, identity politics and promoting the message of systemic racism are key to the progressive program, and that takes precedence.
Featured image: A union protester in costume at an East Greenwich Town Council meeting in July 2017.