‘Right to Join a Union’ Constitutional Amendment Will Sail Through California Legislature

Last month, California state Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment 7 (SCA 7), the Right to Organize and Negotiate Act, which gives all Californians “the right to join a union and to negotiate with their employers,” among other changes.

An SCA can be introduced at any time during the legislative session and allows the Legislature, with a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and Senate, to put a proposition on the primary ballot (March 2024). This will allow the state’s voters to approve or decline a change to the California Constitution.

As a former state senator, allow me to prognosticate on this legislation’s progress over the next few months. It’s scheduled for its first hearing on June 14, Flag Day, with the Senate’s Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee. Having previously served on this committee, I can guarantee that it will easily pass, as three of its five members, Senators Cortese, Durazo, and Laird, are co-authors of this constitutional amendment.

It will then go to the Senate’s Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Senator Umberg sits on this seven-member committee and is a former chair. Consequently, he will hold a strong influence over its current members.

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The California State Capital building Sacramento, Calif., on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

However, there may be some healthy debate, as the current chair is Senator Steve Glazer, probably the only Democrat in Sacramento who is unafraid to vote against the public employee union agenda. He and I were elected to the state Senate at about the same time, and we agreed on several votes concerning public employee union power grabs. It has cost him, and he has scars from not being a 100-percenter to the unions. If he sees the folly of SCA 7, then as the chair of this second committee, he could persuade two of the Democratic members to vote against it. The odds of this happening are very low.

They say a pessimist is an optimist with experience. I would like to be optimistic about this new power grab failing in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, but my gut tells me that it will pass five votes to two, with Senators Glazer and Nguyen in opposition.

If it gets out of Glazer’s Committee, SCA 7 will then go to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where its powerful chair, Senator Anthony Portantino, will greenlight it, as he is also a co-author of this constitutional amendment.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details as it heads for the ballot on a party line basis, with minimal to no Democratic votes in opposition.

The public employee unions already control Sacramento. Every Democrat inevitably votes for legislation that these unions sponsor or support. To do otherwise is political suicide, as the unions can easily fund an opponent to replace them in the next election cycle.

But having this amount of dominance in the state’s Capitol is not enough. The public is starting to realize why the Golden State is so messed up. To counter any threat of lost power, along comes SCA 7, which protects collective bargaining by memorializing it in the state’s constitution.

Here is the proposed new section, 1.5, to be added to Article XIV:

“(a) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the Right to Organize and Negotiate Act.

“(b) All Californians shall have the right to join a union and to negotiate with their employers, through their legally chosen representative, and the right to protect their economic well-being and safety at work.

“(c) On or after January 1, 2023, no ordinance or statute shall be passed, enacted, or adopted that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.”

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Voters drop off ballots at the Orange County Registrar of Voters offices in Santa Ana, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Putting this before the voters is a good move for insecure elected Democratic legislators who are dependent on union funding of their political campaigns. But it’s a terribly bad move for Californians, as collective bargaining should not be in the public sector.

If you want to know the real reason why a thriving powerhouse like California is in the bottom ten states financially in the nation, blame the public employee unions. In a good economy, the state hires more employees. In a bad economy, instead of downsizing, expect Sacramento to increase taxes on the populace to protect union jobs. It’s that crass.

California is no longer run by independent-minded elected legislators and statewide officers who are focused on doing what is best for the fifth-largest economy on the planet. It’s run by public employee unions who are sucking the state’s annual budgets dry. With a roughly $175 billion unrestricted net deficit, more than half of it owed to pay for future lifetime medical benefits for retired employees, the unions have sunk their teeth into a virtual goldmine. And this was all approved by voters who will probably never have lifetime medical benefits. Gullible voters have condoned this behavior and created a supermajority legislature focused on incremental power grabs for those that brought them there.

Public employee unions are relentless and motivated by one word: “More.” And Senate Constitutional Amendment 7 by California state Senator Tom Umberg is trying to fulfill that theme to the max. It’s drawing Democratic legislators as co-authors like flies. It’s another blatant exclamation mark on the road to California’s decline.

Let me warn you to expect union mailers supporting their proposition, along with mentions of the Democrats who will line lockstep in support of the measure.

And the voters may continue to be complicit in this sad devolution if they approve the measure, falling for yet another union propaganda campaign to document in law what is already known in fact. It’s an effort to gain complete dominance and why a once-powerful state will soon circle the drain in its race towards insolvency.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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