California Supreme Court Violates Basic Constitutional Rights

Sean Higgins  looks at an outrageous decision by the California Supreme Court that found that employees must pay union dues even if they are not in the union and the union has the right to your personal, private information:

If you want to work for the Los Angeles County government, you have a choice: You can become a dues-paying, public-sector union member, or you can decline to join a union.

But either way, you still have to pay union dues. Not only that, but the California Supreme Court ruled last week that you have no right to privacy from the union, either.

If you decline to join, the union still gets all your personal contact information so it can follow you home and explain why it is in your best interest to sign up.

Unions must send out annual notices explaining their spending plans and giving workers a chance to object. Those notices were sent to a state agency, which forwarded them to the employees. This layer of bureaucracy preserved their privacy.

But an SEIU local asked Los Angeles County in 2006 to give it the information so it could contact the workers directly. To its credit, the county stood up for the workers’ privacy. SEIU took the county to court.

In 2008, the California Nurses Association got a restraining order against SEIU after its activists showed up at CNA leaders’ homes during a bitter fight over representing nurses. A CNA board member even accused the SEIU of “unprofessional, thug-like behavior.” The California Supreme Court nevertheless came down on SEIU’s side. It ruled that, since unions negotiate for all employees, they should be able to contact them all. The problem with this ruling is that unions don’t have to represent all people in a workplace.

Nothing prevents them from negotiating “members-only” contracts where they only represent those people who voluntarily join. Unions just don’t like that approach because contracts thus negotiated result in fewer members and fewer dues.

The court’s decision is even more inexplicable given that the California Constitution specifically includes privacy rights (something not found in the U.S. Constitution). The court even noted that the “employees who exercised their right not to associate with the union have a somewhat enhanced privacy expectation.”

Nevertheless, the court said SEIU’s needs took precedence. And it blithely dismissed any potential concerns that may arise from its decision. “Giving SEIU this contact information will not coerce employees into joining the union,” the court said.

No, it just gives SEIU a list of those people and how to find them.