Californians might soon run out of ways to drive people from their state, so now they’re trying to export their terrible policies. For example, California’s terrible AB 5 labor law that reclassifies independent contractors as employees using a stringent ABC test, is being instituted through regulatory power, since it can’t pass Congress.
Now, the legislature’s latest ploy will strike a blow to the Golden State’s vibrant taxpayer base and could pave the way for a statewide giveaway to union bosses. Over the summer, California adopted a law giving a tax deduction for union dues membership.
This is basically a taxpayer subsidy for liberal activism since Democrats are largely the only beneficiaries of union donations. California Policy Center’s Edward Ring estimates that California’s public sector unions “collect and spend well over $900 million per year, or $1.8 billion per two-year election cycle.” Only about one-third of this money–$300 million per year– is spent on explicitly political purposes such as campaign contributions and lobbying. Nonetheless, this is a staggering amount of money and it mostly goes to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.
The terrible prospect now is that the left wants to take this idea nationally and pass it at the federal level. Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy at the Freedom Foundation, explained the problem with this idea:
If lawmakers in blue states begin forcing taxpayers to fund national progressive political organizations, politicians in red states will inevitably feel that forcing their respective tax bases to subsidize conservative groups is necessary and justified. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could accelerate the nation’s descent into extreme partisanship and winner-take-all governance. Given the already precarious state of civil society, that’s the last thing the country needs.
This is not just a taxpayer problem. As Heritage’s Rachel Greszler explained, there are ethical and legal problems:
Consequently, this new law could run afoul of the First Amendment’s free speech protection. The Supreme Court ruled in 2018 in Janus v. AFSCME that public sector unions are inherently political and thus states cannot force their employees to pay public employee union dues.
California politicians and public sector unions likely think they’ve found a workaround—forcibly extracting union dues from taxpayers instead of workers. But that’s arguably an even more atrocious free speech violation, because politicians are forcing taxpayers to fund the political speech of a private organization that they are prohibited from joining.
In addition, by being forced to subsidize union activities, taxpayers could be funding activities that work against their livelihoods such as the disastrous AB 5 labor law. Unions were the source of AB 5 as they viewed the reclassification of independent contractors as a new way to gain access to employees who could be unionized. The fallout was that thousands of Californians lost their careers, incomes, and contract work.
The Democrat-led Congress and the Biden administration have ignored the hardship AB 5 spurred and are using every avenue to institute it at a federal level. Why wouldn’t they find merit in this idea as well?
The disturbing headlines keep churning out of the Golden State: “Suspects arrested for stealing guns from California home of Rep. Karen Bass,” “140+ arrested in massive California child sex crimes sweep,” “Santa Barbara County Reports Highest Murder Rate Since 2015,” and “antisemitic hate as crimes at an all-time high in CA.”
It’s no wonder then that Gov. Gavin Newsom himself has referred to part of his own jurisdiction as “a scene from ‘a Third World country.’”
Now is not the time to export such terrible California ideas on unions to the rest of America. We’ll stick to the California wine exports only, thank you.