Kamala Harris, the junior U.S. senator from California and Joe Biden’s running mate knows full well that many employees who are subject to union monopoly bargaining would be better off if they weren’t. In fact, she even told the U.S. Supreme Court that very thing.
In 2015, Ms. Harris and several other statewide California officeholders effectively admitted that laws authorizing a union hierarchy to act as sole spokesperson for members and nonmembers alike in contract negotiations with the employer can and often do hurt talented employees.
At the time, Ms. Harris was the Golden State’s attorney general. She, state Solicitor General Ed DuMont, and several of their lieutenants, along with officers of the National Education Association (NEA) union and its Golden State subsidiary, the California Teachers Association (CTA), were the respondents in Friedrichs v. CTA. And the case was before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Friedrichs plaintiffs were 10 independent-minded public educators. They were challenging the constitutionality of California’s laws foisting forced union dues and fees as a job condition on government-sector workers.
In a September 2015 brief to the High Court, the plaintiffs drew upon passages in the NEA Handbook to make the case that NEA and CTA bosses “advocate numerous polices that affirmatively harm” many teachers:
“NEA considers any ‘system of compensation based on an evaluation of an education employee’s performance’ to be ‘inappropriate’ and ‘opposes providing additional compensation to attract and/or retain education employees in hard-to-recruit positions.’”
Teachers who “care more about rewarding merit than protecting mediocre teachers” should “oppose those policies,” concluded the Friedrichs plaintiffs whose case ended with the High Court split 4-4 following the death of Justice Scalia.
In their brief the plaintiffs added that “teachers who specialize in difficult subjects (like chemistry or physics), but are trapped in union-obtained pay systems that stop them from out-earning gym teachers,” should also oppose those policies.
In the reply briefs filed in November 2015, Ms. Harris and the other pro-forced unionism respondents did not contest the fact that many teachers get paid less due to union monopoly bargaining. And Ms. Harris and Mr. DuMont actually confirmed that, under statutes and case law authorizing monopolistic unionism, Organized Labor officials “do have substantial latitude to advance bargaining positions that … run counter to the economic interests of some employees.”
But even as they acknowledged that Big Labor undercuts the economic interests of many teachers and other employees, Kamala Harris and her cohorts continued to argue it is sound public policy to authorize the termination of such employees if they refuse to bankroll a union they don’t want.
During her recent run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Ms. Harris aggressively reaffirmed her support for forced union dues and fees and declared her intention to wipe out Right to Work protections for employees nationwide. “Banning Right to Work laws … needs to happen,” said Ms. Harris to an audience of union professionals and their militant followers in Las Vegas in April 2019. Moreover, with regard to the key issue of compulsory unionism, Ms. Harris and former Vice President Biden, her erstwhile rival for the Democratic presidential nomination and current running mate, are fully in accord.
Mr. Biden, like Ms. Harris, has publicly gone on record, again and again, in support of the cynically mislabeled “Protecting the Right to Organize” Act, or PRO Act (H.R. 2474/S. 1306).
The PRO Act is a smorgasbord of new special privileges for union bosses. The single most egregious provision authorizes private-sector forced union dues as a job condition in all 50 states, including the 27 states where they are currently prohibited by state Right to Work laws.
Roughly half of America’s private-sector workforce is now employed in a Right to Work state. If the PRO Act becomes law, all these employees will be vulnerable to compulsory unionism. The Biden-Harris ticket’s ugly message to workers across America is: “Pay Big Labor to undercut your ‘economic interests,’ or be fired from your job.”
• Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee.