Budget would soften anti-union case before Supreme Court

Budget would soften anti-union case before Supreme Court

(Calif.) As part of the budget deal set for approval in the Legislature today, lawmakers have included a provision aimed at protecting public employee unions from a likely ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court striking down mandatory dues.

Otherwise, there are few surprises in the 2017-18 spending bill from the proposal that Gov. Jerry Brown released last month.

For schools, that means $74.5 billion in overall Proposition 98 funding, of which, $57.2 billion is earmarked under the Local Control Funding Formula for next year.

One key change from the governor’s May revise is the $1 billion in one-time discretionary money Brown wanted to delay giving schools until spring of 2019—now will come in the spring of 2018, although the allotment has been trimmed to $876 million.

“This budget keeps California on a sound fiscal path and continues to support struggling families and make investments in our schools,” Brown said in a statement.

Lawmakers are expected to quickly pass the budget bills well ahead of the midnight deadline.

One of the bills that appear to be part of the package would require state and local government agencies as well as school districts to negotiate terms with employee unions for access to new employee orientations.

Although the final language of that bill had not been publicly released by press time, sources said union orientation access is part of the budget agreement.

The proposal comes just a few days after a suit out of Illinois arrived before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges requirements in 20 states–including California—on public employees to contribute to collective bargaining activities.

A similar suit was set to go before the court last spring—Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association—but ended up being sidetracked with the death of Justice Anton Scalia. With the court once again at full-strength with the appointment of another conservative, Justice Neil Gorsuch, labor leaders are bracing for an unwelcome ruling.

Although all public employee unions have a stake in the court case, it is especially critical for the CTA, which has wielded significant power in Sacramento for decades.

Facing the same threat last summer, the California Labor Federation sponsored along with other unions legislation a bill that would have imposed similar mandates on public employers. That bill, AB 2835, died in the state Senate after passing out of the Assembly on a vote of 54-24.

Other highlights in the compromise budget plan:

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