In California, Fear the Union Goliath

Could the spirit of Wisconsin spread to California? Don’t count on it — at least for the time being. Gov. Jerry Brown would never propose a Wisconsin-style measure. After all, he signed the 1978 law establishing collective bargaining for state workers. Now would the union-dominated California legislature pass such a rollback.


A group called Californians for Public Union Reform is planning to draft and submit a ballot measure that would end collective bargaining for government workers. It faces steep odds, to put it mildly. In 2005, the unions went all-out to beat an initiative that would have made public-employee unions get their members’ written consent to the spending of their dues money on politics. Even that fairly limited proposal went down by seven points. In California politics, the public-employee unions are a Goliath without a David.


— John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

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