I expect better work from heavy equipment operators.* The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 has gotten its fair-share union dues initiative on the 2016 ballot, but just barely. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced this morning that of 30,810 signatures submitted, her random 5% sample was able to validate only 48.23%. The fair-share petition’s error rate of 51.77% is far worse than the previous champ for bad circulating in 2015, the Jason Glodt amendment, whose “professional” circulators turned in a risible 36% error rate. The fair-share petitioners collected more bogus signatures than valid ones.* Uff da!
Those calculated 14,861 valid signatures are a mere 990 signatures more than the 13,871 minimum for placing an initiated law on the ballot. That 7.14% signature cushion could still withstand scrutiny (recall that no one rose up to challenge Referred Law 19 petition, which eked onto the ballot with a mere 2.2% cushion), but the high error rate could encourage challenges from Republicans who might be more keenly interested in beating back a pro-labor measure like Initiated Measure 23 than they were in trying to defend the complicated and far less hot-button petition reform bill that we tackled in putting Referred Law 19 on the ballot.
Of course, the United States Supreme Court could render Initiated Measure 23 moot before we even see the first campaign poster. Last week the Supreme Court heard Friedrichs v. California Teachers Union, which addresses the core matter in IM 23, whether unions can require non-members to pay dues for collective bargaining activities that serve all employees. The general analysis in the press is that the Court’s conservatives will prevail in overturning precedent and declaring fair-share dues forced political speech, at least in public-sector unions.
Just 4.9% of South Dakota workers were union members in 2014. 6.0% of South Dakota workers were represented by unions. Public-sector employees appear to make up more than half of South Dakota’s union membership. An unfavorable ruling in Friedrichs would thus knock a lot of teeth out of Initiated Measure 23.