Let’s see how unassailable the liberal agenda is in Washington state when it no longer has a bottomless well of union dues to help sell it.
OVER the vocal objections of organized labor leaders and the liberal lawmakers whose strings they pull, right-to-work protections are coming to Washington.
To be sure, the revolution will come from the federal government rather than expecting Washington to clean up its own act, but that won’t make the mandate any less necessary or enforceable.
Washington’s teachers and municipal employees were first required to join a labor union as a condition of employment in the 1960s, and the same requirements were applied to all state workers in 2002.
Over the years, several U.S. Supreme Court rulings (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Davenport v. WEA, Harris v. Quinn, etc.) have weakened the unions’ death grip on public-sector employees, and just over half the states have subsequently adopted right-to-work legislation that empowers government workers to decide for themselves whether or not to pay dues or fees to the union designated to represent them.
Washington, however, isn’t one of them, so for all intents and purposes, public employees here must still choose between losing their jobs and handing over a portion of their wages each month to a private entity whose ideals and political agenda they may or may not share.
That came within an eyelash of changing last January, when the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case of several California teachers who argued their First Amendment rights were being abridged by requirements that they pay dues or fees to the state teachers’ union.
A ruling in the teachers’ favor would have created right-to-work protections for the entire nation, and the court appeared poised to do just that. But only weeks after hearing oral arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia — one of the conservative members expected to vote with the majority — died unexpectedly, leaving the court deadlocked at 4-4.
Had Hillary Clinton been elected president instead of Trump, her choice to replace Scalia undoubtedly would have helped create a new liberal majority on the court, effectively taking right-to-work off the table for generations. Instead, assuming Trump keeps his word and nominates a Scalia clone, right-to-work could well be the law of the land before the end of the year.
What would that mean for Washington? One need look no further than Wisconsin and Michigan for a real-world example.
Once considered among the most reliably Democratic states in the union, both went for Trump this year for the first time since the 1980s. Not coincidentally, 2016 was also the first presidential election year since both passed right-to-work legislation.
Newly freed workers in Wisconsin and Michigan voted with their feet and opted out in record numbers, severely limiting the amount of money the unions could donate to the Clinton campaign as well as the number of “volunteers” it could enlist to get out the vote.
To the casual observer, Washington’s longstanding liberal majority appears impervious to challenge. But just two months ago, we’d have said the same thing about Wisconsin and Michigan.
Money is the mother’s milk of politics, and regardless of whether right-to-work comes from a Supreme Court ruling, a bill passed by a Congress now solidly in Republican hands or an administrative regulation written by a Trump appointee, it’s going to have the same effect here — and in every other state — we saw on election night.
Let’s see how unassailable the liberal agenda is when it no longer has a bottomless well of someone else’s money to help sell it.