Calif. Ballot Measure Anti-union;
Limit the Voice of Workers
October 27, 2005
Today, public employee union members have the same collective
voice in government affairs that is enjoyed by those in other organizations. And
they are not among those clamoring to have their rights diminished
by California Proposition 75, one of several ballot measures under
consideration by state voters in the November 8 special election.
Instead, big corporations and a hostile governor have been the
most enthusiastic backers of the referendum on union spending,
a reprised “paycheck deception” measure that would
require public employee unions to get the consent of members every
year before using their dues for political purposes. As
intended, the measure would effectively silence workers’ voices
in the public realm – including IBEW members – from
exercising their free speech rights.
Many critics have called the ballot measure a transparent attempt
by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to get back at the unions who thwarted
his efforts to replace traditional pensions with 401(k)-style benefit
plans that depend on employee contributions.
If it passes, Proposition 75 would prevent more than half of
the state’s 2.4 million union members from fighting against
budget cuts to schools, hospitals, public safety and other services
working families need. Unions representing public employees
would be so bogged down in red tape, they would have a limited
ability to effectively represent their members.
The business groups backing Proposition 75 say it is to “protect
the paychecks” of workers who might disagree with their union’s
political activities. But Proposition 75’s hidden agenda
is to defund public schools, cut health care and roll back retirement
Despite proponents’ assertions that the measure is supported
by union members, overwhelming support for the so-called Campaign
for Paycheck Protection comes from right-wing conservatives, wealthy
bankers and business leaders, the California Republican Party,
the U.S Chamber of Commerce and other groups hostile to unions.
California voters rejected previous attempts to limit speech
by union members, most recently Proposition 226, voted down in
The AFL-CIO has launched an e-mail campaign urging California
working families and allies to take action by signing a petition
opposing Proposition 75, registering to vote online, getting absentee
ballots, voting absentee and downloading fact sheets and other
action materials. The IBEW is sending telephone messages
recorded by President Hill to members in the state. President
Hill is urging all locals in the state to remind members to vote
against it and to volunteer in the grassroots campaign. Two
of IBEW’s Washington, D.C. lobbyists are spending the month
preceding the vote in the state at work on the campaign that is
unifying union members.
Union members in California can take action at the AFL-CIO’s
one-stop online Proposition 75 action center at http:\\www.aflcio.org/prop75.