Bacon Bits: Elections Have Consequences Edition

Half a loaf is worse than none. Sen. Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Springfield, has introduced a bill that would represent a significant erosion of Virginia’s Right to Work law without repealing it outright. SB 426, entitled “Fair Share Fees,” would authorize an employer to charge employees within a collective bargaining unit who choose not to join the union for the union’a cost associated with collective bargaining, administrative overhead and representation of employees before public bodies. The “fair share fee” would exclude the cost of political activities, lobbying and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining and in no case would exceed 60% of dues. The justification is to eliminate the “free riding” of non-union members who benefit from a union’s collective bargaining efforts.

Tactically, this is a brilliant move by Saslaw because it undermines the most powerful argument against mandatory union membership and payment of union dues — that it forces employees to contribute to political causes with which they disagree. Politically, the bill represents a big payoff to organized labor. Republicans in the General Assembly aren’t likely to support this half-a-loaf approach, but it could persuade moderate, pro-business Democrats. If Saslaw’s gambit succeeds, it would significantly increase the economic power of unions in Virginia and undermine the state’s business climate.

Are safe zones next? HB 40, sponsored by Del. Ibrahim Samirah, D-Herndon, would require every Virginia public school to create and maintain a “mental health break” space with the public school building. Under the bill, the Board of Education would promulgate regulations for the design of the space, student usage, and staffing. The spaces would be indoors, separate from classrooms and as close as possible to the school’s medical service facilities. I can’t imagine this bill will go anywhere this year — the Democrats have bigger fish to fry with the move to bolster K-12 spending by $1.5 billion — but it provides insight into emerging priorities among Virginia progressives. In the progressive vision, the mission of public schools is morphing from educating children to ameliorating their social, economic and mental-health condition. This my friends, is a bottomless pit. There will never be enough money. (Hat tip: Carol Bova.)

Crackdown on private shooting ranges? HB 567, patroned by Del. Dan Helmer, D-40th, would prohibit indoor shooting ranges in any building not owned or leased by the Commonwealth or federal government. The bill would provide an exemption where fewer than 50 employees work in a building or where at least 90% of the users of the indoor shooting range are law-enforcement officers. What is this all about? Who is Helmer aiming to shut down? I know next to nothing about shooting ranges, but my impression is that most privately owned ranges are dedicated, stand-alone facilities. Unless such facilities employ more than 50 employees, they wouldn’t be effected…. presumably. There’s a back story here, and I’d like to know what it is. (Hat tip: Carol Bova)

— JAB

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20 responses to “Bacon Bits: Elections Have Consequences Edition

  1. I heard rumor that the only shooting range that met the criteria was at the NRA headquarters. Not sure if that is true will need to investigate.

  2. Gun ranges have low employee counts. This is only going to establish a foothold for further constraning legislation. It is fake law intended to appease.

  3. “indoor” shooting ranges, not “outdoor”? odd…..

  4. All I can guess is that some people in Helmer’s district object to an indoor shooting range in that district (for some reason). I guess it could be the NRA’s range on Waples Mill Rd. There are others in the vicinity. Again guessing … Helmer wants to burnish his proglib credentials by striking a blow against gun owners by outlawing (as far as I can tell) harmless indoor shooting ranges. No doubt there are people in Helmer’s district that find the idea of people transporting firearms to and from an indoor shooting range in their neighborhood very scary. Their nerves are probably already frayed from guzzling too many lattes at their local coffee and kale shop.

    One thing for sure – indoor shooting ranges promote good discipline and strict gun safety. While I thought proglibs supported gun safety I have to wonder where those gun safety courses will be conducted if the indoor shooting ranges are shuttered.

    In Maryland (yes, Maryland!) the state Department of Natural Resources provides a website with a list of shooting ranges in the state.

    https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/hunt_trap/shooting_ranges.aspx

  5. By George, I think you guys have got it! This bill is calculated to inflame passions.

  6. Jim:

    BaconsRebellion has a slogan of “Reinventing Virginia for the 21st century”. This necessarily requires something of a futurist perspective. If you can’t imagine the future how can you chart the course of Virginia in that future?

    Accordingly, I think we should make a nod to the future and describe Dick Saslaw as Richard Saslaw D-Mecklenburg. After all, is it more important to dwell on where he is now or predict where he’ll be in the future?

  7. I guess Senator Saslaw has been too busy raising campaign contributions to have noticed the case of Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31. There, the Supreme Court held that the application of public sector union fees to non-members is a violation of the First Amendment. Justice Alito writing for the majority concluded that agency-shop agreements violate “the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.” Alito recognized that losing these fees would put a financial burden on the public sector unions, who would continue to have to represent nonmembers even without their agency fees, but stated that “we must weigh these disadvantages against the considerable windfall that unions have received.” In the decision, the Court held that the holding from Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) was inconsistent with the First Amendment and thus overruled that decision.

    Justice Kagan dissented and was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor.

    Lots of lawsuits will be filed if the bill passes and is signed by Northam.

    Helmer is another one of the extreme left-wing activists elected in November.

  8. Is Janus applicable here? The decision was for public sector unions, and I was under the impression VA did not allow public sector unions, ie state and local employees.

    • Good question.

      Virginia Code § 40.1-58.1
      Application of article to public employers and employees
      As used in this article, the words, “person,” “persons,” “employer,” “employees,” “union,” “labor union,” “association,” “organization” and “corporation” shall include but not be limited to public employers, public employees and any representative of public employees in this Commonwealth. The application of this article to public employers, public employees and their representatives shall not be construed as modifying in any way the application of § 40.1-55 to government employees.

      40.1-55 prohibits strikes by public employees in Virginia.

      • This does not seem to answer the question of the applicability of Janus to non-public sector employees. The decision was based on the fees being a violation of the employees’ First Amendment rights. I assume the rationale was that perhaps the employee may not have been in favor of the government spending more money on employee salaries (political speech). Do you think the First Amendment rational would be applicable in the case of private sector employees?

        • I do, Dick. If a state law forces a private sector employee either to join a union or to pay agency fees, the force of state law is compelling that employee to support speech and advocacy that she/he does not support. But for the state law, the union could not compel membership or agency fees.

          As I’ve posted before, when I was in high school and college, I worked for Montgomery Ward in Minnesota. State law compelled me to join the union (no one said anything about agency fees in lieu of membership). And, after post-inventory layoffs, I would regularly work a week or two for free with my wages going to taxes (often just social security) and back union dues. That is just not right.

          I’ve never opposed people joining a union by choice. It’s available under federal law. But I sure don’t support forcing people to join a union or support its political activities through agency fees. One would think all the “pro-choice” people would feel the same. We should have a national right-to-work law.

  9. I guess HB 582 remedies the public sector union issue.

    http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB582

  10. johnrandolphofroanoke

    I think SB 426 exists de facto in the present. I am a member of the local teachers association. They do some good things for us such as defend teachers from accusers, fight for better pay/benefits, and lobby. Most of the 600 dollars a year I give goes to lobbying and PACs. The VEA and the NEA both have a claim on a portion of my 600 dollars. It is enormous pool of money that goes a long way to supporting political candidates in the local, state, and national elections. The problem is none of the candidates and almost all of their policies are things I agree with. Can’t drop out though. These guys are the only ones that will go to bat for me if I am falsely accused of something at school. We are so wide open and vulnerable these days. I guess I have the wolf by the ears.

  11. There is some ignorance and disinformation about public sector unions. The right for employees to collectively bargain and to have an association that works for their best interests is not the same as a union that can strike.

    The former is a legitimate function if workers want to join. And if they don’t they won’t get some of the benefits – like representation if they have actions taken against them.

    Similarly, with non-public sector unions – there are two parts – the legislative lobby part then the part that serves the workers with direct benefits.

    Busimess and employers do not like unions of any kind because it limits their ability for workers to collectively negotiate for working conditions and benefits that individual workers could not effectively accomplish.

    Unions also work to insure employees are treated fairly in terms of what workers are qualified for what work so that all employees have equal opportunities at positions.

    For instance, you might see the State Police workers lobby for a Sergeants Test and specific qualifications so that all have that opportunity.

    Or teachers – who follow the rules but then an unscrupulous principal might try to evaluate them with a different standard as a pretext to deny them opportunity or remove them.

    This is not the same as a strike yet it is often wrongly portrayed as that ability.

  12. A person can decide to join a union in a right-to-work state. It’s just that the law protects that person from having to join the union. When I was an in-house counsel in both Iowa and Nebraska, I did some labor relations work, including a couple of arbitration cases between the Company and the Union. A lot of the non-management workers in both states were members of the labor union. But some weren’t. Their right to work was protected.

    And the courts are protecting those rights more and more as labor unions continue to function as political advocates more than representatives of workers. That is a good thing.

  13. re: “.. as labor unions continue to function as political advocates more than representatives of workers”

    I think that’s clearly a matter of opinion –

    Most teachers for instance are supportive and thankful of VEA both for their lobbying for pay and benefits as well as representation when dealing with school administrations.

    Police, fire and rescue have organizations for employees as does UPS and Post Office as do most airline pilots, as does a lot of govt-funded construction like roadways – those organizations ensure safety rules that are, in fact, often compromised when there are no worker unions.

    It’s the unions that make sure that each worker gets the same equal pay for a particular job and gets the same treatment on employer actions that affect workers.

    If a worker does not want to support political candidates, the Unions can deduct that cost from the dues.

    “Right to work” has always allowed the splitting of the dues to deduct the political part.

    The folks on the right say right-to-work is “business friendly” but the businesses that don’t have unions often abuse their employees… and companies with unions almost never hire illegals whereas companies that are not unionized – do.

    • Not quite. If a person voluntarily joins a labor union in a right-to-work state, he/she has to pay full union dues irrespective of that member’s feelings about union governance or political activity. If the member doesn’t like what the union is doing, the member can simply resign from the union. But if you are a voluntary member, you need to pay dues like all other voluntary members.

      In a non-right-to-work state, I believe the Janus case means the worker has a right not to pay full union dues or even agency fees if she/he disagrees with the union’s operations. The First Amendment gives us the right “not to speak” through mandatory assessment for speech that the worker dislikes.

      “companies with unions almost never hire illegals whereas companies that are not unionized – do.” I’ve never seen anything supporting this conclusion. Indeed, SEIU’s membership is highly populated by people not authorized to work in the U.S., i.e., illegal immigrants.

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