Big Labor Loss in California Special Election, More Losses in November?

Support for A.B.5 Power Grab Helps Torpedo U.S. House Candidacy

California Assembly member Christy Smith’s vote for Big Labor’s radically anti-Right to Work A.B.5 scheme delighted union bosses. But it clearly turned many constituents against her, as this pre-election Facebook ad illustrates. Credit: Facebook ad, as reproduced in California Globe (edited by NRTWC)

In recent years, even as the Right to Work movement racked up major wins in a number of state legislatures and in the federal judiciary, California politics was increasingly dominated by union special interests.

Since 2012, the last year of Barack Obama’s first term in the White House, the total number of states adopting and implementing Right to Work laws that protect employees from being fired for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union has risen from 22 to 27.

And in 2018, a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney successfully argued in Janus v. AFSCME, a case brought to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of an independent-minded Illinois civil servant, that forced dues extracted as a condition of public employment are unconstitutional.

But today both chambers of the California Legislature, as well as the governorship, are firmly under Big Labor’s control, as they have been since 2011.

At the same time, popular opposition to monopolistic unionism in the Golden State is clearly intensifying.

Over the next few years, freedom-loving California citizens will have the opportunity, with the National Right to Work Committee’s assistance, to mobilize this opposition and begin to change their state’s political climate.

Committee Put Spotlight on How Big Labor Was Lavishly Bankrolling Christy Smith

A May 12 federal special election for a suburban area located just north of Los Angeles, in which avowedly pro-Right to Work businessman Mike Garcia became the first Republican anywhere to recapture a U.S. House District lost by Donald Trump in 2016, illustrates how it can be done.

California’s 25th Congressional District opened up last November with the resignation of scandal-plagued, union-label Democrat Rep. Katie Hill.

Thanks in large part to the massive power of the Big Labor political machine in coastal California, Democrats were originally heavily favored to retain the seat, which Ms. Hill took over with a nine-point victory in 2018 and Hillary Clinton carried by seven points in 2016.

However, after Mr. Garcia first returned his National Right to Work Committee Candidate Survey in late January, pledging 100% opposition to forced unionism if elected, then prevailed in the GOP primary, Committee leaders sensed that the race could be close.

This spring, a series of letters signed by Committee President Mark Mix repeatedly alerted thousands of identified Right to Work supporters in the 25th District to the fact that the Democrat nominee in the special election, Christy Smith, was running up a huge political debt to the union hierarchy:

“You see, the truth is, from AFSCME to the Teamsters to SEIU and the NEA, union kingpins are lining up to support Christy Smith.”

Mr. Mix went on to urge freedom-loving citizens to contact Ms. Smith and demand that she break with her Big Labor bankrollers and promise to support Right to Work in the future, and also contact Mr. Garcia to commend him for standing up to the union bosses.

‘So After 28 Years in Business, A.B.5 Is Saying I Can’t Do This Any More?’

The Right to Work message resonated loudly.

In California, many citizens who have long supported the overwhelmingly popular Right to Work principle, but did not always make it their key issue come election time, are now refusing to vote for pro-forced unionism politicians.

The immediate reason for the widespread change of heart is California’s A.B.5, a recent massive expansion of forced unionism that seeks to rob 1.5 million independent contractors in the Golden State of their workplace freedoms.

Last year, Sacramento lawmakers rubber-stamped A.B.5, and Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it, ignoring warnings from the Committee, which has roughly 43,000 members in California, about the disastrous impact it would have.

Among the most vociferous supporters of this power grab was Assembly member Christy Smith, who announced her U.S. House candidacy shortly before A.B.5 took effect in January.

It reclassified independent contractors, including truck owner-operators, therapists, artists, musicians and writers, as well as drivers for Uber and Lyft, as “employees” under California law.

As a result, these workers are now vulnerable to union monopoly bargaining, and to being forced to pay union dues, or be fired.

Many workers are furious about this deadly threat to their independence, as one southern California trucker recently explained:

“Unions have been after trucking forever. I have been an owner-operator since I was 24 years old.

“So after 28 years in business, A.B.5 is saying I can’t do this any more?”

Union Bosses Show ‘All They Care About’ Is Growing Forced-Dues Ranks

In California, because of A.B.5, the pain associated with steep coronavirus-related employment losses has been greatly intensified.

Countless freelancers complying with “stay at home” orders have been unable to use their time and skills to generate income so they and their families can make it through the crisis.

And long-term job losses are projected to be enormous.

“Unfortunately,” observed Mr. Mix, “the negative consequences of A.B.5 don’t seem to matter much to California union bosses.

“They are showing that all they care about is growing their forced-dues ranks and filling union coffers, and they see independent contractors as prime targets for fulfilling those objectives.”

But ordinary citizens are fighting back, and Mr. Garcia, who defeated Ms. Smith by a substantial 10-point margin to become the first Republican to flip over a Democrat-controlled House seat in California since 1998, could be the first of many pro-Right to Work candidates to benefit from the backlash against A.B.5.

As California Globe editor Katy Grimes has noted, exit polls from the District 25 race show “a lot of voters” who normally vote for Democrats cast their ballots for Mr. Garcia “as a protest” over A.B.5.

“The smart thing for politicians who voted for this increasingly unpopular scheme to do now would be to roll it back substantially, or completely repeal it,” said Mr. Mix.

“But so far it seems Big Labor California politicians aren’t getting the message, as they continue to support A.B.5. The potential consequences of their stubbornness are monumental.”