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California Republicans Want to Repeal Ban on Union Busting

The officials are suing for the right to stop workers from joining a union

Brian Young's picture
Mar 11, 2020

In California, it is illegal for public employers to deter or discourage workers from joining a union. The law was passed in 2018 following the Janus v AFSCME decision that allowed public employees to opt-out of their union. However, not all employers like this new law and conservative elected officials from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties are suing to overturn it.

The seven officials have filed a challenge to the law in federal court and are arguing that their free speech rights are being trampled on. They also accuses state legislators of passing the law to undercut the Supreme Court.

One of the plaintiffs in the case is Jeffrey Barke, a former Los Alamitos Unified School Board Trustee. Barke said that the law is essentially a gag order on elected officials. Other plaintiffs include San Clemente Councilwoman Laura Ferguson, Mission Viejo Councilman Ed Sachs and four school district board members: Jim Reardon, of Capistrano Unified, Phillip Yarbrough, of Rancho Santiago Community College, Leighton Anderson, of Whittier Unified High School, and Rodger Dohm, of Ramona Unified in San Diego County. They were joined by two libertarian right wing think tanks, the California Policy Center and the Center for Individual Rights. All of the plaintiffs are Republicans.

In response to the lawsuit, which was filed against the California Public Employment Relations Board, supporters of the law said that the aim is protect workers from threats or pressure. In the private sector it is common place for employers to spend large amounts of money and effort to prevent their staff from organizing.

“The law gives employee groups and organizations the opportunity and access to members and potential members. It does not infringe on anyone’s free speech rights,” said Ed Sibby, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association. Sibby went on to tell The OCR, that the lawsuit reflects the angst and anger that the plaintiffs have after the Janus case failed to decimate public employee unions.

The Center for Individual Rights has filed a number of lawsuits following the Janus decision challenging a number of state laws that were put in after the case, including another California law that established a set two week opt-out period.

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