Robert Krol and Shirley Svorny LOCAL VIEWDaily NewsLos Angeles, Calif.: Aug 26, 1999. pg. N.17

Robert Krol and Shirley Svorny are professors of economics at California State University, Northridge. Write to them in care of Daily News Opinions, PO Box 4200, Woodland Hills, CA 91365-4200.

DEMOCRATIC politicians are close to passing legislation requiring all California State University employees to pay fees to the union - whether they agree with the union or not.

This stealth legislation benefits not only union leaders but the Democratic Party itself. Even though the money goes to the union, about 20 percent is recycled to Democratic campaigns.

The original Senate bill put the first employee vote on the matter out four years, after four years of compulsive payments to the union. In order to ensure that employees could not overturn agency shop even then, Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, and Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles, the authors of the bill, included an unprecedented, onerous voting rule.

The legislation requires a majority of all those eligible to vote - not just those who do vote, the usual rule in such elections - to turn down agency shop.

Just in terms of faculty, there are approximately 20,000 eligible employees. If 15,000 were to vote, which would be a high turnout, and the vote were 9,000 to 6,000 opposed to agency shop, agency shop would remain. We would not have the 10,001 votes necessary to end agency shop.

The bill's authors deceptively amended the legislation on Monday in an attempt to act fair or inclusive, but it offers nothing.

The wait is out - we are permitted to organize a vote right away - but the onus is on us to get thousands of signatures on a petition, to fund the election, and the voting rule remains the same. With the voting rule as it is, there is no chance of a successful overturn.

What is remarkable is that this has gone on without any discussion among members of the affected unions or employees. Call any CSU employee today and ask if he or she is aware of the legislation. Odds are, they won't know.

We don't see ourselves as "free riders," as the union lobbyist claims, taking advantage of union efforts on our behalf. We oppose union positions on compensation and working conditions. We strongly support the movement in the California State University system over the last few years toward merit pay.

The union has done everything it can to water it down. On many campuses, the union has opposed scheduling and other arrangements to accommodate Tidal Wave II, a huge cohort of students expected to enter the state system.

Given the union position on these issues, providing the union with dollars will be bad for the California State University system - and for its students.

Democratic politicians should think one more time about whether this is how the state should be run. The Legislature, with the support of a minority of the CSU employees, is forcing the rest of us to fund a cause we do not support.

Clearly, this is one way for the Democrats to give something to the union. The money is coming from the pockets of CSU employees, but ultimately comes from taxpayers.

Because a good chunk of it will be recycled to Democratic campaigns in the future, the effect of the legislation is to funnel taxpayer dollars to its sponsors.

The consequences are not just political; increased union presence will have negative consequences on CSU campuses, to be felt by CSU students for years to come.

We hope that voters will remember this Democratic present to the union representatives the next time they vote.