Californians turning on unions

Californians turning on unions

Bart Strike SEIU logoPeople with too much power are setting themselves up for a fall. In democracies, voters sometimes decide things, punishing one group with too much power, while rewarding others with less power.

So it was inevitable that Californians would turn against the state’s powerful public-sector unions. When you’re on top and people become dissatisfied, you inevitably become the scapegoat.

California supposedly is “prosperous,” which it certainly is for Silicon Valley billionaires and public-sector unionized workers. But California also has the country’s highest poverty rate, as a U.S. Census Bureau study revealed last month.

A new Field Poll

“finds the proportion of voters believing unions do more harm than good has increased ten points, from 35% to 45%, while those believing unions do more good than harm has declined six points from 46% to 40%. Thus, there has been a net sixteen-point swing in voter sentiment from the positive to negative side over this period.”

That’s a sharp decline in less than three years. Currently, the opinions are 40 percent favorable to 45 percent unfavorable.

Transit worker strike

Here’s another finding:

“California voters are split almost evenly on the issue of whether public transit workers should be allowed to strike when their leaders are unable to reach agreement with management on a new contract. Statewide 47% believe they should continue to have this right, while 44% think they should not.”

And dig this. The Bay Area is by far the state’s most liberal area. Californians generally are slightly favorable to public transit workers’ right to strike. But…

“One significant exception to this relates to voters in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. While a slightly larger proportion of Bay Area voters views labor unions positively than negatively overall, by a 52% to 41% margin they oppose allowing public transit workers the right to strike.”

The reason, obviously, is the BART strike in July, which snarled transportation throughout the Bay Area. Even liberals get ticked off when they can’t get to work.

Other factors

Meanwhile, other factors militating against the unions include the ongoing pension crisis, which contributed to the municipal bankruptcies in Vallejo, Stockton and San Bernardino; and the possible bankruptcy in Desert Hot Springs.

And the most powerful union in the state, the California Teachers Association, has to take at least some of the blame for the state’s students’ continued performance near the bottom of national testing. The influx of new money to education from the Proposition 30 tax increase, and from Gov. Jerry Brown’s shifting of money from rich to poor schools, is unlikely to change that — especially with the new national Common Core standards dumbing down testing. The problem isn’t a lack of money, but a lack of competition, and of choice for parents.

The teachers’ unions also continue to stifle even modest reforms to reduce the scandals of teachers abusing students.

Can Republicans take advantage of this dissatisfaction with unions so identified with the state’s Democratic Party? Only a little. The GOP’s brand remains too sullied.

But that means the Democratic Party will suffer fissures, with black and Hispanics especially upset at the public schools failing, year after year, to educate their kids. With money flowing in and Republicans irrelevant, who but the unions can take the blame?

Tags assigned to this article:
BART strikeCTAField PollJohn Seilerunions

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