Prop. 32: "deceptive and outrageous"

Union-busting initiative would let corporations, Super PACs control California


Coming soon to California schools near you: larger classes, fewer courses, and an end to sports and arts programs.

All of this and much worse could come to pass after Nov. 6 if voters approve Prop. 32, a deceptive and outrageous initiative which would empower corporations, Super PACs and the wealthy to control California. That would spell disaster for public education and the state as a whole.

Prop. 32, the Special Exemptions Act, would sharply limit unions' ability to raise money from their members and completely prohibit them from contributing to candidates.

Prop. 32's supporters claim the measure is “paycheck protection” but nurses, firefighters and teachers like myself don't need or want protection from our own unions. And anyone who approves of an eight-hour workday, minimum wage, weekends and overtime benefits from healthy unions, whether they are members or not.

Our state's voters rejected this idea twice before, leading Prop. 32 supporters to try a new trick. This union-busting measure contains language about corporate paycheck deductions, giving the proposal the appearance of fairness. But since businesses and their owners can simply raise limitless political contributions through profits, Prop. 32 will leave corporate power unchecked while crippling unions that currently balance their influence.

In addition, the measure does nothing to check unlimited political spending of Super PACs, the new political action committees unleashed by the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case. Through Super PACs, anonymous wealthy donors are already spending hundreds of millions to influence the 2012 elections nationwide.

Should Prop. 32 pass, what parts of their agenda will they impose here? Other states are fighting voter suppression, mandatory vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions and vouchers to siphon support from cash-strapped public schools. If unions become powerless, perhaps a better question is, what parts of the extremists' agenda won't they impose here?

No wonder that experts are calling Prop. 32 “a fraud to end all frauds,” and “Citizens United on steroids” and “the polar opposite of even-handed campaign finance reform.”

As Steve Smith of the California Labor Federation wrote, “Prop. 32 is a sucker punch. If the billionaires land it, the next punch will follow quickly. And that would likely be a knockout to California’s middle class.”

We know what corporate rule would be like because California once had it, as a summer visit to the mining town of Bodie reminded me. There the Standard Mill, built in 1877, once pulverized a ton of ore to extract each ounce of gold from mines. This destructive process laid waste to entire mountainsides but more shocking was the plant's harm to its own employees. Rock-crushing machines deafened workers, mercury exposure poisoned them and factory equipment maimed and killed many, all without compensation. The mill is full of hazards that the law would never
permit today.

Governor Hiram Johnson brought California the initiative a century ago to break the stranglehold big business held on the state's government and people. To see his direct democracy used to empower corporations and the super-wealthy while silencing working people would surely make the progressive leader spin in his grave.

Prop. 32 would send us on a calamitous journey back to a dark period in our history. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike should know better.

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David September 25, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Again, you're missing the point. If you find mutual funds so heinous, buy individual stocks. You have rights and the option to allocate your time and money. A union member does not have those rights. His money is taken from him upon pain of losing his job to support political activities he may disagree with. Why is it ok for the majority to steal from the minority?
Rob Rich September 26, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Let's be real. Prop 32 is not about protecting union workers' paychecks. Quite the opposite, it is being pushed by those who believe that union members earn too much & have too much influence in electoral politics. Evidently their polling indicated that wasn't an effective message so they "spinned" it to try to make it sound warm & fuzzy. The problem is, one moment they're foaming at the mouth spewing Social Darwinian invective about how unions are the root of all evil, and then with the next breath lamenting the travails of honest, hard working union members whose dues are being "stolen." Crocodile tears? However, just because they are being disingenuous doesn't mean they don't have a point. I fully support honest, bi-lateral efforts at legitimate campaign finance reform. But not this one-sided junk that is really nothing more than an attempt to hogtie one's opponent.
David September 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Can we be "real" about all the propositions? Like anything coming from the Teachers' Union? Why can't unions convince their members that contributing to new SuperPAC XYZ brought to you by Local ABC is a good thing that will elect politicians that are friendly to them? That's what every other political group does. Could it be that their members don't actually want their money going to certain politicians?
Jimmy Hoffa October 09, 2012 at 08:22 AM
Vote yes on prop 32. It is time to send the unions a clear message.
Fred Eiger October 09, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Oh yes Marga, America is in danger of being a "one-party" system. You mean like in the Bay Area where Unions and Democrats have created a welfare, society of abject poverty and misery in Oakland, Richmond and East Palo Alto? Save you hypocrisy for your own blogs.


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