President’s Message

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What “Freedom” in Freedom Foundation
Really Means 

By CAPS President Patty Velez

In this instance, “Freedom” means the unfettered ability to contract out YOUR job to private sector profiteers.

Since its inception CAPS has been focused on addressing the needs of California State Scientists. No one else. No unrelated causes, no money to local or national politics, no endorsements of candidates or issues not having a direct impact on members’ employment and professional interests. Until the advent of the Janus decision.

That decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on June 26 eliminated the requirement for nonmembers to pay a fee for representation. This substantially cuts the financial support to CAPS and ALL public sector unions nationwide where there was a so-called “fair share fee agreement.” For CAPS, that means a loss of about 25% of our income, making the effort for maintaining and increasing the salary and benefits of State Scientists more challenging. Meanwhile CAPS still has the legal obligation to represent ALL State Scientists on bargaining related issues, whether they are paying dues or not. So nonmembers are now truly “free riders.”

One of the principal organizations behind the legal effort to eliminate fair share fees, and to eliminate unions altogether, is the Freedom Foundation. Google it on the web, and see for yourself. This is a group that’s funded largely by hard-core anti-union corporate interests intent on further reducing or eliminating union influence in both the public and private sectors. One way to do that is to reduce the funding, and the SCOTUS decision in Janus is proof of that.

We now see in the aftermath of Janus that paid Freedom Foundation solicitors are appearing at public sector worksites in Orange County and actively soliciting those public employees to drop their union membership. There have been reports of Freedom Foundation solicitors in the Sacramento area doing the same thing.

What’s really going on here?

Shift public sector work to the private sector. Contract out. The stakes and the dollars are HUGE. For State Scientists, that means shifting the work from independent scientific professionals in the public sector to higher cost scientists in the private sector working for profit motivated operators. While this effort may be less successful in the near term here in California, watch what happens in the coming months and years in the Midwest and nationwide. Profiteers are ratcheting up pressure on eager politicians to shift work to the private sector, claiming that public workers are lazy, that public programs are bloated, that defined pension benefits are too expensive, and that the private sector can do the work better and more efficiently.

This is an old playbook. It’s one that CAPS and other public sector unions have been fighting for decades. But it just received a huge injection of new impetus from Janus. Evidence to support this is mounting because the so-called “Freedom Foundation” and other like-minded groups are ratcheting up efforts on the ground in California and elsewhere to discourage union membership. So now we have the added task of countering the propaganda of the Freedom Foundation and their supporters—that quitting your union is good for you and for your pocketbook. Not much difference between this effort and the one pushed by private sector financial advisors and the  politicians they sponsor who advocate elimination of a defined-benefit plans administered by CalPERS in favor of private 401(k) plans administered by Wall Street brokers.

Don’t be fooled. As challenged as we are in achieving our goals – – Salary Equity, maintaining retirement and health benefits before and after retirement, and protecting everything else that provides a living wage – – we MUST keep CAPS vibrant and strong. The alternative is to weaken CAPS and to have no one fill the void to protect what we have fought so hard to gain.

Support CAPS! Maintain your membership. Encourage your coworkers to do the same. The alternative is to see our jobs and the role of independent science diminished in the public sector. That isn’t good for anyone except the profiteers.