Supreme Court decision preserves public employees’ voice

By Michele Hanisee

The Supreme Court tie vote that preserved “agency shop” rules for public labor unions, kept in place a decades-old rule that allows public unions to require non-members to pay fees to help cover collective bargaining costs. Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio abandoned efforts to put a pension-busting initiative on the November 2016 ballot because they hoped the Supreme Court would rule against unions in the “agency shop” case and hamper the ability of unions to raise fund to fight their initiative.  Despite the Supreme Court ruling, challenges are plentiful for Deputy District Attorneys and other public sector employees in California.

On the labor front, those opposed to public employees have vowed to continue ballot attacks on our pay and benefits.  Reed and DeMaio have not given up.  They have vowed to slap a pension-busting initiative on the 2018 statewide ballot.

While past efforts to destroy the statewide public pension system have crashed spectacularly three times in the past two years, their disdain for hard-working government employees and desire to keep their names in the limelight assure us that they will continue their efforts to qualify an initiative to eliminate public pensions.  In the interim, they and their allies will continue to churn out op/eds that exaggerate problems with pension and public employee pay/benefits in an attempt to poison public opinion.

If some day they succeed, it would spell disaster for communities throughout California. One has to look no farther than the City of San Jose.  There, the fallout from Reed’s 2012 assault on public pensions in San Jose spurred an exodus of police officers and other public employees from that city, leading to soaring crime rates.

Additionally, various initiatives are proposed for the upcoming November ballot which may greatly affect the criminal justice system.

On the criminal justice front, Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing an initiative that would flood communities throughout California with dangerous felons after they have served only a portion of their prison sentences.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing a separate, misguided initiative – the laughably named “Safety for All Act of 2016”-which would make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners while incentivizing criminals to commit burglaries and robberies to obtain weapons.

Finally, the ADDA also is strongly supporting a critically important measure that would save the death penalty as a sentencing option by enacting much-needed reforms of the current badly broken system.

ADDA members know that our collective efforts will be needed to defeat ongoing and future threats to our employment.  We remain committed to supporting smart public policies that will preserve the protections California’s residents currently enjoy.

Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. 

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