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Campaign Aims To Support Government Workers Leaving Their Unions

Top: Reform California's Carl DeMaio rallies with supporters in Escondido, Ja...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: Top: Reform California's Carl DeMaio rallies with supporters in Escondido, Jan. 9, 2018. Bottom: Union workers rally in Hillcest, June 27, 2018.

Reform California and the California Policy Center launched a campaign Wednesday to help government employees who may want to leave their unions and stop paying union dues.

The campaign comes on the heels of a June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Janus v. AFCME in which the court ruled that public sector employees cannot be compelled to join a union or pay dues. The court ruled that collective bargaining is inherently political, and a theoretical union that could compel a member to fund political activity they don't agree with would violate the First Amendment.

In light of the decision, Reform California, a political action committee that primarily opposes tax increases, and the California Policy Center, a conservative think tank generally active in efforts to reform pensions and education, said that the average government employee could save roughly $800 per year by avoiding compulsory union dues.

"The unions are taking the dues out of people's paychecks without their permission and funding politicians who are voting on laws that are the detriment to those individuals" said Reform California's chairman, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio.

RELATED: Union Membership Steady As San Diego Teachers Head Back To School Post-Janus

SEIU Local 221 member Crystal Irving, who is a San Diego county protective services worker, said the campaign is misleading.

"Unions are the reason we’re able to get what we get — from wages to benefits to working conditions," Irving said. "Do you think the county would honestly play Oprah, and just say like you get a raise, you get a raise, everyone gets raises — absolutely not. Unions have been the front line of making sure employees get what they need."

SEIU Local 221 President David Garcias pushed also back on the campaign, framing it as a transparent attempt by DeMaio to keep his political career afloat.

"These anti-worker extremists want to weaken worker power and lower wages, so they can continue to rig the economy against the middle class, and siphon off obscene profits for the billionaire 1 percent," Garcias said. "San Diego families have repeatedly seen through DeMaio's transparent lies and will again."

Reform California and the California Policy Center launched a campaign Wednesday to help government employees who may want to leave their unions and stop paying union dues.

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