Unlike the U.S. Constitution, California’s governing document includes an explicit guarantee of the right to privacy. Yet the Golden State’s Supreme Court ruled last week that the guarantee is waived if a union wants to send somebody to a person’s front door to explain why he should stop causing trouble and hand over money for union dues — if he knows what’s good for him. Or words to that effect.
The implications are chilling and ought to serve as a reminder to lawmakers in the 26 states without a right-to-work law that they should adopt one, soon. In the meantime, the California case pitted Los Angeles County against the Service Employees International Union. California has no right-to-work law, so the county government’s employees have no choice but to either join SEIU or at least pay dues to it. They can object if their dues money is spent on political campaigns, but few do so for fear of workplace retaliation.
For many years, the county government acted as go-between for the union and the non-members by collecting dues. Then in 2006 the SEIU demanded that county officials turn over all workers’ contact information. The court ruled on May 30, 2013, that, since the union’s contract requires it to represent all county employees, it can contact them as well.