Union excess, echoed with approval by their media allies, especially in liberal San Francisco, has hit an almost absurd level. Non-union hotels like Hyatt are inexplicably vilified in the liberal press. The nurses at the University of California’s hospitals, including U.C. San Francisco, have gone on strike, over, among other things, their objections to “unprecedented executive excess.” U.C officials reportedly say the real reason for the strike is that the union that represents the nurses, the Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, doesn’t want to change employees’ generous pensions. “The union has refused to agree to UC’s pension reform started in 2010 to address underfunding of the plan,” said a U.C. spokesperson. Even the Symphony in liberal San Francisco finds a reason to go on strike, causing cancellation of what was termed a “prominent East Coast tour.” Something seemingly as docile as the annual meeting of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank is forced out of their own headquarters city, where the meeting has been held each year for 15 years, and placed instead in Salt Lake City, for fear of “Occupy” protesters, cheered on with financial support from the California Teacher’s Association, disrupting the meeting.
But now ten public employee unions including the SEIU, the California Labor Federation and the California Professional Firefighters Association are so worked-up that the conservative Koch Brothers might become owners of the newspaper publishing Tribune Company, the parent company the Los Angeles Times, that they have rallied liberal Democratic legislative leaders to join them in threatening the current largest shareholder of Tribune, Oaktree Capital Management, with retaliatory withdrawal of pension fund investments should Oaktree make the sale.
Such thuggery seems not too far afield from criminal racketeering, and stands out as an example of how far California’s major unions will go to silence a different view. So much for promoting competition of ideas in California!
James V. Lacy is co-founder and managing partner of Wewer & Lacy, LLP. Wewer and Lacy, LLP focuses on Election Law and Nonprofit Organization Law matters.