SEIU Gets One Right (By Accident)

September 24, 2010 - By admin

Steven Greenhut: The Service Employees International Union — those purple-shirted bullies who think that average Californians should pay far more in taxes to prop up their huge pensions — has actually taken a reasonable position by supporting marijuana legalization, Prop. 19. The governor blasted SEIU for this in a statement released today.

Here’s Arnold:

I was surprised to read that leaders of the state’s biggest union — the SEIU — had decided to endorse Proposition 19, which would allow Californians to legally grow and possess marijuana. Any patrol officer, judge or district attorney will tell you that Proposition 19 is a flawed initiative that would bring about a host of legal nightmares and risks to public safety. It would also make California a laughingstock.

Leaders of the Service Employees International Union say they support Proposition 19 so the state can avoid cuts to healthcare, home care, education and elderly care programs. Yet even the best-case estimates show Proposition 19 (assuming it would even pass constitutional muster) bringing in only $1.4 billion in annual revenue — a fraction of our current deficit.

The SEIU could embrace a far better and more responsible solution for saving state programs: pension reform.

I admire the governor’s views on pension reform. He has really been sticking to this important issue. And he is right that the purple-shirt-wearing bullhorn-touting folks ought to embrace such reform. But he should also embrace marijuana legalization (indeed all drug legalization) not because it will bring revenue to the state but because it is a freedom issue. It might save money by chance (reducing incarceration rates and allowing police to focus on real crimes). But that’s just a side benefit. The governor should understand this personal freedom issue. I would never expect SEIU to get it about personal freedom, but at least they back the right side on 19.

SEPT. 24, 2010

  1. yep says:

    “It would also make California a laughingstock.”

    Now that’s a really funny thing to say.

  2. John Gardner says:

    Can’t wait until we have potheads running our refineries/chemical/gas/nuclear plants, driving big rigs on our highways and performing in countless other jobs which potentially imperil lives and property. If I read the measure correctly, employers will be limited in removing such people only when they can show “actual impairment”, a standard which as far as I know has no legal definition and for which no legal standard has been adopted.

    In this case, freedoms just another word for nothin’ left to lose except your life!

  3. Steven Greenhut says:

    Idiots who smoke pot and work at refineries and nuclear plants already are doing so — undetected by employers, if your calculation is correct.

  4. CalWatchdog says:

    Currently, it is still legal for employers to have enforceable workplace drug and alcohol policies. “Reasonable suspicion” of an impaired employee is all that is required to suspend the allegedly impaired employee, pending an investigation, which includes a drug test.

    It is not easy but is legal for employers to enforce a drug-free workplace – as long as the job descriptions in place support the policy.

    Katy Grimes

  5. John Gardner says:

    “Idiots who smoke pot and work at refineries and nuclear plants already are doing so — undetected by employers, if your calculation is correct.” The oil company I worked for had pre-employment, for cause (including accidents) and random testing, with the standard for “action” (entry into a drug program for a first offense and discharge thereafter) only being the presence of THC or cannabis metabolites (that is, no proof of actual impairment). The random testing program is a powerful disincentive for drug use, and our experience (and that of many other companies with hazardous operations) says you are simply quite wrong.

    “Reasonable suspicion” of an impaired employee is all that is required to suspend the allegedly impaired employee, pending an investigation, which includes a drug test.” True, but doesn’t go far enough, as most suspensions will not be sustained since there is no legally accepted standard for “impairment”. All we can test for now is the presence of THC or metabolites. If there were a legally accepted/sanctioned standard for impairment (e.g., .08% for alcohol), it would be possible to compel compliance against such a standard. It does not exist.

    “as long as the job descriptions in place support the policy” We never included this in our “job characterizations” and don’t believe this is ever required (unless you are telling me that under the proposition employers must justify inclusion in the “drug-free” workplace on a job by job basis.

    In conclusion, I realize the public safety issue is “inconvenient”, but it is real and pretending that it isn’t real or can somehow be dealt with quickly and reasonably is simply fantasy. What have you been smoking? :))

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Joseph Perkins
Joseph Perkins, now assistant editor of the Orange County Register Opinion Pages, started his career as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. After serving on the White House Staff of former Vice President Dan Quayle he wrote for the San Diego Union-Tribune where he authored a nationally-syndicated column. Before writing for, Mr. Perkins was also Business Editor for San Diego Magazine.
Chris Reed
Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.
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Brian Calle is Editor-in-Chief of and the Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register. His work has appeared in Bloomberg, Fox News, Forbes, Real Clear Politics, Human Events, Real Clear Markets and City Journal, among other websites and publications. Find him on Twitter: @briancalle
John Seiler
John Seiler has been writing about California for 25 years. That includes 22 years as an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and two years for, where he is managing editor. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Hillsdale College. He was a Russian linguist in U.S. Army military intelligence from 1978 to 1982. He was an editor and writer for Phillips Publishing Company from 1983 to 1986. He has written for Policy Review, Chronicles,, Flash Report and numerous other publications. His email:

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