Anti-union Prop. 32 targets Democrats
November 8, 2012
Proposition 32, officially the "Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute," or the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative, will weaken the political muscle of labor unions in California, which has the largest number of union members in the U.S. — about 2.5 million.
Prop. 32 would end the current practice of unions being able to collect dues for political purposes without a worker's consent. Its advocates claim it stops both corporations and unions from giving money to politicians.
The Los Angeles Times maintains that Prop. 32 "would have a devastating effect on labor unions' political fundraising efforts," adding that "voters should reject it." Voters rejected similar attempts at outlawing the use of members' payroll-deducted funds for political purposes in 1998 and 2005.
This partisan initiative has been designed to wrest power from Democrats. How? Because Democratic candidates by a wide margin are politically favored by labor unions, cutting their fundraising ability will, in effect, significantly reduce the chances of Democrats winning political offices in the Golden State. Basically, without substantial union-backed funding, many Democrats will lose elections.
Conservative supporters claim the measure will limit big campaign spending from corporations and unions.
Historically, attempts at unionization have met with severe resistance, even violence, by "big business." Nowadays, conservatives are still overwhelmingly pro-business. Many want union power obliterated.
It's no wonder unions demand god-awful things like a fair wage, workplace safety, better work conditions, equal treatment, seniority-based promotions, bargaining, defense of workers' rights and several other things. Also, unions created child labor laws, overtime, minimum wage, injury protection, the weekend, workmen's compensation insurance and pension security, among other horrible things.
Without labor unions, management can pretty much do as it pleases to the employees without any hindrance, feedback or protest (as in China). And by paying low wages to exploited workers, companies are able to accomplish unimpeded what they're mainly designed to do: maximize profits.
In the 1980s, it was "trending" to oppose unions. Companies without them were highly esteemed. To work for a company without a union was the equivalent of valiant heroism. Today, however, working for a non-unionized company is risky, unwise and problematic. There's no redress of grievances, no job security and no fringe benefits. In fact, studies show that non-union workers get taken advantage of at the workplace more so than unionized workers.
Surely, union dues are a small price to pay for guaranteed protection against corporate unfairness. After all, the job of unions is to fight for the rights of workers. People shouldn't have to give up their constitutional rights when they work for a company. But neither should workers be absolutely free at work to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Labor unions operate under restrictions and certain guidelines, too. Contrary to popular belief, unions are not as powerful today as they once were.
Basically, pro-32 special interests have inadvertently labeled approximately 2.5 million fine union firefighters, nurses, police officers, school employees, teachers and workers in construction, health care, manufacturing, retail and other industries as odious special interests.
Conservative supporters claim the measure will limit big campaign spending from corporations and unions. But Prop. 32 specifically targets unions. Labor is opposed to this "Stop Special Interest Money Now Act," which is a misnomer since Prop. 32 actually exempts the same corporate special interests that are funding the (pro-32) campaign: "Big Oil," insurance company executives, hedge fund managers, Wall Street bankers, big developers and Super PACs. Many wealthy conservative ideologues are funding Prop. 32.
Confused? The real people behind the initiative are millionaire businessmen, conservative PACs and other corporate special interests. The initiative would exempt the real special interests that have everything to gain by limiting the power of California's labor unions — namely, themselves. After all, would special interests be spending millions for 32's passage when it would essentially handicap their own political abilities (lobbying) as well? But they've exempted themselves!
Prop. 32 is the new 21st century (revised) version of union "busting." This deceptive measure would not only strip California's unions of their ability to draw a steady stream of campaign cash from their membership, but Prop. 32 also subsequently strips unions of their political clout, likely leading to an advantageous statewide shift to Republican power.
It's no coincidence that the California Labor Federation, the California League of Women Voters and the California Democratic Party are campaigning against 32. The power of unions and the political fate of Democrats are at stake Nov. 6. (Voting "no" leaves both unions and Democrats alone — a "yes" vote doesn't.) There's obviously more to 32 than meets the eye.
David Briceno lives in Grass Valley.