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Calif. Ballot Measure Anti-union; Would
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 security.   

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 1998.

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.


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