Guild News by Zohara Kaye, Guild Secretary
The Corporate Power Grab
A new ballot measure has been approved for the November 2012 elections, deceptively entitled “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act.” Unions across the state have taken a stance opposing this measure because it is deceptive, unfair, and unnecessary.
What? What this measure proposes in reality is far from how it is represented.
What it appears to be is a bill written for the people, the so called “public interest”: the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act” uses specially crafted language to deceive the voter into thinking it equally applies to corporations and labor unions. The opening paragraph begins with “Special interests have too much power over government […] and the public interest is buried beneath the mountain of special interest spending.” Under the umbrella term “special interest” the proponents of this bill include corporations and labor unions, and “public interest” is defined as antonymous to labor unions.
What it is in reality, is an attack against the very same labor unions that fight for improving the wages, hours and working conditions of the people: the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act” would disallow voluntary contributions to political action committees (PAC) through payroll deductions. In addition, any such voluntary contributions set up through means other than payroll deductions would expire annually unless reauthorized with a written consent submitted by the employee. Currently, union dues and political contributions are collected until the employee requests to stop them in writing, and this bill would reverse the procedure by requiring annual authorizations.
Why? Why is this measure an attack against the labor unions? Why is this measure called the “Corporate Power Grab” or the “Paycheck Deception Act”?
While labor unions raise money for their PAC activities through payroll deductions, corporations’ contribution to political activities come directly from corporate profits (not payroll deductions). As such, this measure would place additional barriers on labor unions’ ability to collect voluntary contributions, while corporations may continue to legally funnel money from their profits to independent expenditures and ballot measure contributions.
Contributions to individual candidates would be prohibited by both corporations and unions, which may appear to be a fair and equal treatment of all parties. However, corporations generally spend a very low percentage of their political contributions on individual candidates (roughly 5-15%). Unions, on the other hand, would be disallowed from spending voluntary contributions on candidates running for their local school boards. What this ultimately means is that we could no longer contribute to or participate in our Board of Trustees elections.
Who? Who supports this bill and who doesn’t?
The bill is initiated by the Orange County Republicans, written by a partner in a law firm representing the California Republican Party, and is supported by the Bay Area GOP and Bay Area Council.
Labor unions across the state oppose this measure. The legislative analyst’s office reported that while “[i]t is possible that a federal or state court would prevent this measure from going into effect because it infringes upon various parties’ constitutionally protected freedom of speech”, if not preempted by the courts, the fiscal impact of implementing and enforcing the provisions would be “in hundreds of thousands.”
How? How would this measure change the playing field?
Corporations already outspend labor unions on their political contributions 10 to 1; this measure could make the ratio closer to 1,000 to 1. In effect, it would silence the voice of the labor unions in our quest to fight for better wages, hours, and working conditions of the people.
Under current law, no union worker is forced into making contributions that go to political activities, whereas employees, consumers, and shareholders of corporations do not have a say in how much or which political activities the corporations will fund.
The Guild’s political action committee, Professors for Quality Education (PQE), is funded via voluntary contributions authorized by employees and may be set up to be deducted automatically from their paychecks. To authorize a voluntary contribution to the PQE, visit the Guild’s website and click on “PQE” to access the PQE Voluntary Contribution Form < http://www.glendale.edu/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=11741>.
When? What’s the history behind this proposition?
Similar “paycheck protection” bills failed at the voter box in 1998 and 2005. The 2010 “Paycheck Deception Act” didn’t even make it to the ballot. The 2012 “Corporate Power Grab” is similar to these but more dangerous because of the deceptive rhetoric used in crafting the language. Voter education is critical!
Where? Where can you find additional information?
Full-text of the proposed bill:
Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings Central Labor Council—
Legislative Analyst’s Office—http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2011/110309.pdf
Lodi Education Association: talking points from CTA—http://loditeachers.net/news/powergrab_flyer2.pdf