Sue FrostPosted by Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost
In June, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME, ruling that the First Amendment protects public employees from being required to pay money to a union without their consent. As this was a high profile case that drastically changes the way unions operate, I wanted to use my monthly article to discuss the history of this issue, how I believe this will impact Sacramento County, and why I support the decision.

In 1977 the Supreme Court ruled that even though public employees cannot be required to financially support its political activities, they are still required to pay the union a “fair-share” fee to pay for the union’s collective bargaining activities (the costs the union incurs in negotiating their wages, pensions, benefits, work conditions, grievance procedures, etc.). This fair-share fee was only a small bit less than paying the full fee, and as such, less than 800 of our roughly 11,000 employees elected to only pay the fair-share fee.

But now with this latest ruling, any union member can cease paying the entirety of their union dues while still receiving all the benefits of being a union member. New employees will be given the option of whether to pay into the union or not, and existing employees can leave the union whenever their union contract has to be renegotiated (every three years).

From the County of Sacramento’s perspective nothing will change — we will still negotiate contracts with unions just as we always have.  But from the union’s perspective everything is changing.  Almost half of our union employees have contracts up for renegotiation this year, and I expect a large number of employees to opt out of their union dues. This will force the unions to cut staff and limit the number of donations they make to political campaigns.

It is important to note that this Supreme Court decision does not impact all public sector unions the same. Public safety unions like the Sheriffs, Firefighters, and Probation are not worried about the impact, because they focus on service to their members, and don’t tend to plunge into unrelated political fights that their membership doesn’t support. I do not expect union membership in these public safety organizations to dwindle.

I agree with the Supreme Court decision because I fully believe any person should be able to have a career teaching children, fighting fires, or being any other form of public servant without having to pay a private third party for the opportunity to do so. I also believe it will bring some real benefits to the employees of Sacramento County.

Now, unions will have to work harder to justify their importance to the employees. They will need to ensure they are offering real value to their members, and they will be less likely to pick controversial political fights that end up angering their members who disagree. Public labor unions should be encouraging membership and dues on the merit of the benefits they provide, rather than require employees to pay what is essentially a payroll tax. 

There are other good things about this ruling as well, such as lower wage workers seeing a boost to their paycheck and making it easier for them to support their families. The average union dues are over $500 annually — which means workers who decided to stop paying dues will effectively get an annual raise. This money could be the difference between starting a college account for their kids or not, being able to reduce debt, or simply feeling more secure that the bills are taken care of.

I have no burning desire for unions to die off, or even to shrink. But I do have a desire to ensure that the employees of Sacramento County are given options regarding what they can do with their hard earned paychecks. The unions can come out of this situation alright, just so long as they truly listen to their members, deliver the types of services people need, and stay out of political campaigns that their membership aren’t fully in support of.

Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491 or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.

Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms, Fair Oaks, and Rancho Cordova.


Bunky Svendsen's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 165
Post rating: 210

Really?

Kind of reminds me of a former co-worker, who didnt believe in Christmas...but was always present at the annual Christmas party, slurping up all the goodies. As far as Im concerned, if you dont contribute to collective bagaining...you are not entitled to a raise or any other benefits afforded you through a union contract.

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417

Wish

Bunky,

Surprise, surprise! You love unions pouring money in to democrats running for office. No every unionized government employee is a democrat.

If it were up to me unions and special interests could contribute nothing to political candidates. You on the other hand want to limit special interest donations but union  money is fine as long as your Democrats win.

Hypocrisy.

John Hein

Adam Autsen's picture
Joined: 04/25/2018
Posts: 5
Post rating: 18

Utterly Misinformed

John,

 

It appears as though you do not even understand the argument.  This is about small goverment unions.  Employees representing their fellow members, on their own time without benefits.  These are small units, without the luxury of deep pockets.  Folks who protect the rights of the employees in the workforce, ensuring the government does not degrade wages, benefits and working conditions.  All without getting paid a dime.  It is ironic, how some people can raise issues such as people getting free rides on welfare, as well as other social programs.  Its identical to someone who refuses to pay union dues but gets a free ride when it comes to negotiations.  The fair share policy that was inplace was there to ensure those who did not support which way they perceived their union to sway politically.  They contributed a reduced amount to the union, to cover the costs of negotiating and representation.  That is why it was called a "fair share".  Now that it is gone, it could possibly force small goverment unions to collapse, reduce benefits and wages, attracting lesser qualified employees, and making our goverment even more useless and innefective than it already is.  Then see how your hard earned money gets squandered even more.  I dont know about you, but i would rather see my tax dollars spent more wisely

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417

Chuckle

So let me get this straight. The SEIU, CNA and CTA are small government unions? I think not.

 Not every employee member of those 3 unions are democrat. I know I know, it's hard to believe! Every one of those three unions spend millions of union dues to elect people like Newsome. So give me a break. Not all their employees want their dues spent in that fashion.

Debate over. Waste of my time. 

John Hein

Adam Autsen's picture
Joined: 04/25/2018
Posts: 5
Post rating: 18

Ignorant

So, you just named 3 unions.  Out of tens of thousands of goverment unions, you could only name 3.  Assuming what you say is correct, that those 3 unions you mentioned pay millions of dollars to elect democrats into office, is by no means an accurate representation of all goverment unions as a whole.  What you fail to realize is that most cities and counties nationwide probably have a union.  Those are police officers, fire fighters, teachers, public works engineers and inspectors, child protective services, etc., etc.  The list goes on.  This ruling is a push to eliminate the middle class.  I am neither Democrat or Republican.  Yes it is true that some unions donate to Democrats.  Most are private unions not connected to small local government agencies, such as local 3 operating engineers.  They remain unaffected by this ruling, since it only affects small goverment agencies.  Here is a secret.  These non goverment unions also donate to republicans!  No matter who is in office, they attempt to gain the favor of whoever is in office.  I know, shame on them.  But those MILLIONS they spend pale in comparison to the BILLIONS shelled out by big business to both Republicans AND Democrats.  But i guess thats ok right, BIllions of Dollars spent on "GIFTS AND VACATIONS" to sell away our freedom, our rights and our health so big corporations can keep raking in the dough.  Makes this attack on goverment unions seem pretty petty to me.  Average Americans trying to earn a liveable wage.  Shame on them.  Put the politics aside, stop regurgitating the balloney you hear.  They try to make you believe this is about politics.  Guess what, ITS NOT.  Its about greedy politicians wanting more money for themselves for for doing less work and less accountabilty, all while the average employee recieves lower wages than their counterparts in non-government jobs, and the services provided by your local agency gets reduced and underfunded.

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417

Sue Frost

So I guess you disagree with the SCOTUS and Sue Frost as well.

John Hein

Adam Autsen's picture
Joined: 04/25/2018
Posts: 5
Post rating: 18

Without a doubt.  Ive done my

Without a doubt.  Ive done my homework.

John Hein's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 353
Post rating: 417

Now we know

Now we know you're smarter than well educated legal minds. Good to know. Maybe Trump should nominate you for the SCOTUS.

John Hein

Adam Autsen's picture
Joined: 04/25/2018
Posts: 5
Post rating: 18

Good one

Intellegence has nothing to do with it.  I am not compromised by special intrests.  Stop trash talking.  If you have facts i would be interested to hear them.  I am not shallow minded to believe in only one political party.  I think its time you stop talking trash and bring something of value to discuss.  So far, you have brought close to nothing to the table

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