Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why Unions Fear California's Proposition 32

In one word: accountability.

See this essential essay, from Larry Sand, at the Los Angeles Times, "Prop. 32: What really scares California's big unions":

Unions Communists
Michael Hiltzik infers in his column Sunday that Proposition 32 is a big lie -- because it prohibits both corporations and labor unions such as the California Teachers Assn. from extracting involuntary political contributions from the paychecks of workers. Hiltzik argues that its prohibition of corporate deductions is of minor impact, but that union political fund-raising will be crippled.

He is amazingly untroubled by the fact that taking such payroll deductions for political purposes without consent is patently immoral. Why should a worker have some of his forced union dues spent on candidates or causes that he doesn't agree with? As Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

Oddly, Hiltzik seems concerned only that the CTA and other public employee unions maintain the ability to build massive political war chests so they can pour tens of millions of dollars into the same types of independent spending efforts that so offend him.

Does it trouble Hiltzik that the CTA's inexhaustible tap on more than a quarter of a million teacher paychecks has deluded parents into the false belief that their kids are getting a good education? Does it bother him that California's deteriorating public school system has cheated two generations out of a decent education?

Having been a teacher for more than 28 years, it troubles me. It also troubles Gloria Romero, the California director of Democrats for Educational Reform and the former majority leader in the state Senate. As a former teacher, she endorsed Proposition 32 because it's California's best hope for the implementation of urgently needed reform that would rescue the next generation of its children from bad schools that will cheat them of attaining their full potential....

When lobbyists for corporations or unions hand a check to a public official who is about to vote or take action on their special interest, what happens to the public interest? In April, a Times article on AT&T's enormous lobbying efforts showed that after contributing to every single Sacramento legislator, the company has succeeded in blocking any consumer protection effort that threatens its profits.

Hiltzik has the temerity to defame the reformers who put Proposition 32 on the November ballot, calling it the "fraud to end all frauds." He notes two prior efforts to stop special-interest money corruption of state and local politics both were defeated.

Yes, they were defeated -- by being grossly outspent by union money making the same misrepresentation that Hiltzik has employed in his obtuse column. Hidden beneath a cleverly crafted attack on the credibility of Proposition 32 is Hiltzik's central argument -- that the status quo must be protected from the power of the voters.

Public employee union bosses aren't spending millions of dollars because they're worried that the elected officials negotiating their benefits will become accountable to rich people. They're worried that politicians might become fiscally accountable to the taxpayers.

The CTA bosses aren’t worried that education reform decisions will be made on behalf of corporations. They’re worried about reforms made on behalf of the parents and children of our state.

Accountability must be a very frightening thing to unions. If it wasn't, they’d be a little less worried about allowing their own members to contribute political funds voluntarily.
Unbelievably shameful.

Prop. 32 may be the most important item on the California ballot this November.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ringo's Pictures via Zombie, "SEIU drops mask, goes full commie."