Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

California’s Prop. 32: Clone of Past Anti-Worker Measures

October 18th, 2012 | Mike Hall

Maybe this election year will finally put a stake through the heart of efforts by corporations and extremist right-wing millionaires to silence the voice of California’s working families in the political arena.

This year, it’s called Prop. 32 and it’s a near-clone of 2005’s Prop. 75 and 1998’s Prop. 226, which voters defeated by 53% to 47%. Both times, huge mobilizations by working families turned back the millions of dollars from Republican PACs and corporate and anti-worker extremists. These are the same groups that are behind Prop. 32.

Deceptively titled, “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act,” Prop. 32 would ban the use of voluntary payroll deductions by union members who want to contribute to their union’s political activity. It would do nothing to stop the campaign spending by secret corporate-backed PACs and the wealthy.

For example, as the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor points out:

  • Prop. 32 exempts secretive super PACs and corporate front groups, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporate special interests and billionaire businessmen, to support their candidates or defeat their enemies. The measure does nothing to prevent anonymous donors from spending unlimited amounts to influence elections.
  • Prop. 32 is NOT campaign finance reform, as its backers claim. The wealthy supporters of this initiative created exemptions for Wall Street hedge funds, real estate investors, insurance companies and other well-heeled special interests, allowing them to continue contributing directly to the coffers of political candidates.
  • Prop. 32 would severely restrict union members in both the public and private sector from having a voice in our political process. As a result, teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers and other everyday heroes would be unable to speak out on issues that matter to us all—like cuts to our schools and colleges, police and fire response times, patient safety and workplace protections.
  • This measure would give corporate CEOs and their lobbyists even greater influence over our political system. Corporations already outspend unions 15-1 in politics. This measure would effectively clear the playing field of any opposition to big corporations’ agenda, which includes outsourcing jobs, gutting homeowner protections, slashing wages and health benefits and attacking retirement security.

You can find out more on the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s No on 32 webpage, which includes a union-member toolkit and links to the No 32 Facebook page and Twitter account (Twitter handle is @StopExemptions). Sign-up for email alerts and volunteer opportunities.

On a lighter note, take a look at the video below from SEIU Local 521, where the resurrected “zombies” of the earlier versions of Prop. 32 are on the march for the brains of voters. On the Labor’s Edge blog, Khanh Weinberg writes about how the “Boo on 32” video was made.

This post originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on October 17, 2012.  Reprinted with permission.

About The Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

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