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The Political Calculus Behind Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

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Killing unions. In 2015, Republicans in the 114th Congress introduced bills to establish a federal Right to Work law. If passed, this legislation would be a giant leap forward in dismantling unions in all states. For the present, the proposed House bill (HR 612) and Senate bill (S-391) are stalled in committees. Both are framed around model legislation offered by the National Right to Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC’s model Right to Work law for state legislators is not different from the proposed federal version, But, there is a new union-busting kid on the block, working from the bottom up. Unlike ALEC’s focus on state policies, ALEC’s new baby, the “American City County Exchange” produces model ordinances for local self-governing jurisdictions such as a county, city, town, village, borough, parish, or district. When an ordinance is passed and included in a larger set of laws, it may be called a “chapter.” Members of the ACCE are pushing their preferred ordinances/chapters into local government, but without seeming to be heavy-handed. Here is part of the ACCE pitch to local elected officials: “As municipal leaders, you make daily decisions that directly impact your neighborhood roads, schools and property taxes. (Note that schools are mentioned). How much more effective could you be if you had access to ground-breaking research and the nation’s top industry experts, or if you could share ideas and experiences with your counterparts from around the country so you can learn what works without repeating others’ mistakes?”… “Members of the American City County Exchange receive academic research and analysis from policy experts who work with issues, processes and problem-solving strategies upon which municipal officials vote. Provided with important policy education, lawmakers become more informed and better equipped to serve the needs of their communities. Join us today.” ACCE has tiers of membership. Elected officials pay a small fee to join and receive propaganda and perks. In 2014, the fee was only $100 for a two-year membership. Membership gives them reduced rates for conferences, free publications from ALEC, and ready-to-use model ordinances/chapters that comport with ALEC’s market-based view of all things wonderful. In contrast, corporations pay $7,000 to $25,000 for ACCE membership. This gives them a seat at the local governance table, where they propagate their talking points, white papers, and ”expert” opinions, and ready-made ordinances to the wined and dined elected officials. Higher fees give corporations a role in making decisions about which model legislation to push. Here is a lightly edited version of the American City County Exchange’s “Local Right to Work Ordinance,” with a few notes I have added in parentheses. Summary: No employee need join or pay dues to a union, or refrain from joining a union, as a condition of employment. The ordinance establishes penalties and remedies for violations of the ordinance’s provisions. Model Policy: Section 1. This ordinance may be cited as the Local Right to Work Ordinance. Section 2. It is hereby declared to be the public policy of the (Insert City or County), in order to maximize individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of employment and to encourage an employment climate conducive to economic growth, that the right to work shall not be subject to undue restraint or coercion. The right to work shall not be infringed or restricted in any way based on membership in, affiliation with, or financial support of a labor organization. Section 3. The term “labor organization” means any organization of any kind, or agency or employee representation committee or union, that exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning wages, rates of pay, hours of work, other conditions of employment, or other forms of compensation. Section 4. No person shall be required, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment: (A) to become or remain a member of a labor organization; (B) to pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount to a labor organization; (C) to pay to any third party any pro-rata portion of dues or charges regularly required of members of a labor organization; or (D) to be recommended, approved, referred, or cleared by or through a labor organization. Section 5. It shall be unlawful to deduct from the compensation of an employee any union dues, or other charges to be paid over to a labor organization, UNLESS the employee has first presented, and the employer has received, a signed written authorization of such deductions, which authorization may be REVOKED by the employee AT ANY TIME by giving written notice of such revocation to the employer. (Nothing requires the employer, or the worker opting out of dues, to notify the union’s financial officer. This is an easy path to destabilize union financing and financial records). Section 6. Any agreement, written or oral, implied or expressed, between any labor organization and employer that violates the rights of employees as guaranteed by this chapter is hereby declared to be unlawful, null and void. Any strike, picketing, boycott, or other action by a labor organization for the sole purpose of inducing or attempting to induce an employer to enter into any agreement prohibited under this chapter is hereby declared to be for an illegal purpose and is a violation of the provisions of this chapter. (Union members who protest this ordinance are automatically judged “unlawful.” Free speech and freedom of assembly are steamrolled.). Section 7. It shall be unlawful for any person —to compel or attempt to compel an employee or prospective employee to join, affiliate with, or financially support a labor organization or to refrain from doing so. —to cause or attempt to cause an employee to be denied employment or discharged from employment because of support or nonsupport of a labor organization, —to induce or attempt to induce any other person to refuse to work with such employees. —to intimidate or threaten to intimidate an employee’s or prospective employee’s parents, spouse, children, grand-children, or any other persons residing in the employee’s or prospective employee’s home, —to damage or threatened damage to an employee’s or prospective employee’s property. (The ordinance is framed as if hostile acts, threats, and intimidation could only come from workers or prospective workers, never from employers). Section 8. Any person who directly or indirectly violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be subject to a fine not exceeding (insert amount) or imprisonment for a period of not more than (insert time period), or both such fine and imprisonment. (Unlike most state Right to Work laws, this local version criminalizes violations. The model ordinance does not stipulate the severity of misdemeanor. Typical misdemeanor classifications are: Class 1 or A, fines of up to $5,000, and/or a jail sentence of up to 12 months; Class 2 or B, fines up to $1,000, and/or a jail sentence of 6-9 months; Class 3 or C, fines up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 3 months; Class 4 or D, fines up to $500 and/or a jail sentence of up to 30 days. ). Section 9. Any employee harmed as a result of any violation or threatened violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be entitled to injunctive relief against any and all violators or persons threatening violations and may in addition recover any and all damages, including costs and reasonable attorney fees, resulting from such violation or threatened violation. Such remedies shall be independent of and in addition to the penalties and remedies prescribed in other provisions of this chapter. (I think that Section 9, in itself, is an act of intimidation: Comply or else). Section 10. It shall be the duty of the prosecuting attorneys of each county to investigate complaints of violation or threatened violations of this chapter and to prosecute all persons violating any of its provisions, and to take all means at their command to ensure its effective enforcement. Section 11. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all contracts entered into after the effective date of this chapter and shall apply to any renewal or extension of any existing contract. Section 12. An emergency existing therefore, which emergency is hereby declared to exist, this ordinance shall be in full force and effect on and after its passage and approval. (Section 12 is a real kicker. Typically, an “emergency ordinance” can be passed without formal reading or publication prior to passage and by a simple call for the yeas and nays, recorded in the minutes of the meeting. It is effective immediately upon passage and approval by the county judge. In other words, the ordinance can be on the books before there is any opportunity for questions, objections, or negotiation. The language in the ordinance is carefully crafted for rapid and low visibility action before opposition to it can be organized.) Section 13. {Severability clause.} Section 14. {Repealer clause.} Section 15. {Effective date.} Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors January 9, 2015. https://www.alec.org/model-policy/local-right-work-ordinance/ For activists who want to protest the 3rd ACCE Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, the dates are July 27 – July 29. In the past some major speakers have been Governor Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. See also http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/02/12738/acce-city-subsidize-alec-style-corporate-lobbying

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