A recent action by one of nation’s largest public-employee unions illustrates the importance of an Illinois case that might make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court sometime next year. The technical dispute involves the complex process by which public-sector unions assess dues to those who don’t want to be members. But the real issue is more fundamental to a free society: Should people be forced to fund groups they find offensive? The Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents 95,000 California state employees, earlier this month increased the dues assessed on those employees who are known as “non-germane objectors,” or NGOs. These are people who have opted out of paying for the union’s political activities. Because of a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision, they are still required to pay for expenses related to collective bargaining. Last year, the SEIU local spent $13.7 million as part of a bargaining process to hike members’ wages. “The union members who voted on the contract favored it by a 90 percent margin,” according to a Sacramento Bee report, “but aspects of the deal were unpopular among some workers.” To pay those costs, the union hiked dues on these NGOs by 6 percent, thus pushing dues payments for nonmembers to 73 percent of the full amount paid by full-fledged members of the union.
A class-action lawsuit against CalPERS filed on behalf of more than 130,000 California government workers and retirees can move forward to trial, a Los Angeles judge has ruled. The lawsuit challenges a sharp increase in fees that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System levied on people who bought insurance for long-term health care through the pension fund. It argues that the rate hike was different in scale and purpose than any previous fee increase on those policy holders.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week joined 11 other Republican attorneys general and Kentucky’s GOP governor in signing on to a letter demanding that California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat, stop requiring insurance companies to report their fossil fuel investments and signing a “pledge” to divest from such holdings. “The threats made by the California insurance commissioner will hurt families, businesses and insurance carriers across the nation,” Paxton said in a statement. “These requirements are misguided, unrelated to insurance regulation, and are clearly politically driven. We will not stand by while negligent, politically motivated requirements harm the livelihood of thousands of U.S. citizens.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and fellow Republican attorneys general in 11 other states want to stop an effort by a California regulator to get insurance companies operating in that state to divest from coal and disclose their fossil fuel investments. Hunter and the attorneys general — as well as one governor — sent a letter Monday to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones accusing him of trying to "publicly shame those who invest in American energy." The letter threatens legal action if Jones doesn't revise his policies.
The misuse of settlement slush funds was one of the Obama Administration’s worst practices, which it used to end run Congress’s constitutional spending power. After the GOP took the House and tried to cut spending for liberal interest groups, the Obama Justice Department began to force corporate defendants to allocate a chunk of their financial penalties to those same groups.