Centuries ago, Isaac Newton laid out in elegant mathematical terms what common sense already told us — that a body at rest will tend to remain at rest, and a body in motion will tend to remain in motion, unless acted on by an external force.
In physics, this is known as Newton’s Second Law of Motion. In behavioral science, a similar tendency is described by the “status quo bias,” which asserts that people will normally take the path of least resistance even when it results in an outcome different than what they would have done if everything else were equal.
In a very real sense, that’s what California’s public-sector unions are counting on in the wake of Harris v. Quinn, a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows home-based child care and health care workers being compensated through Medicaid to decide for themselves whether they want to continue supporting a labor union whose goals and ideals they don’t share.
But the unions are making a mockery of the court’s true intentions on the subject, and a case currently before Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals exposes the fallacy — and unconstitutionality — of their actions.
Hamidi v. SEIU Local 1000 addresses the union’s policy of simply assuming every new caregiver entering the field wants to be a union member until they affirmatively state otherwise and successfully negotiate a confusing, and often hostile, opt-out process.
Like Newton, SEIU Local 1000 understands workers — like apples falling out of trees — have to first overcome the inertia of non-action. So it works with a compliant California Legislature to concoct regulations that put the burden of proof on the worker to prove he or she doesn’t want to be a union member rather than on the union to prove they do.
Where else do we make such an assumption? Could the National Rifle Association, for example, arbitrarily decide its services are so indispensable that every gun owner must be forced to pay membership dues to a private organization until he or she can demonstrate to the NRA’s satisfaction they don’t want to?
Of course not. Our default assumption until otherwise confirmed is that a gun owner who hasn’t already joined NRA may not want to. We respect that decision, and we expect the organization to show proof that each of its members has affirmatively agreed to join up before it can start confiscating dues money.
Studies have shown that, when asked in the abstract, about 56 percent of workers in a given workplace…