Labor Leaders Fear Prop 32 Will Silence Workers' Voices

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined union leaders protesting the California ballot measure that limits campaign contributions.

By Conan Nolan
|  Thursday, Oct 18, 2012  |  Updated 3:05 PM PDT
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If voters approve Prop 32 in November, corporations and unions will no longer be able to automatically deduct campaign contributions from worker's paychecks. Conservative groups and others are backing the proposition, which they call a finance-reform law. But organized labor leaders are spending millions to beat it back. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2012.

Conan Nolan

If voters approve Prop 32 in November, corporations and unions will no longer be able to automatically deduct campaign contributions from worker's paychecks. Conservative groups and others are backing the proposition, which they call a finance-reform law. But organized labor leaders are spending millions to beat it back. Conan Nolan reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2012.

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined labor leaders in East Los Angeles on Wednesday, lashing out against Proposition 32, which would ban corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates if voters approve it in November.

"Prop 32 isn’t reform, Prop 32 is a fraud," Villaraigosa said.

If approved by voters, the California state ballot measure, nicknamed the “Paycheck Protection Initiative,” would:

  • Prohibit corporate and union political contributions to state and local candidates.
  • Ban contributions by government contractors to politicians who award their contracts.
  • Ban businesses and unions from automatically deducting money from worker’s paychecks to be used for political purposes.

"It cuts the money ties that have contributed to the disfunction in Sacramento," said former state senator Gloria Romero, now with Democrats for Education Reform.

Union’s argue the restriction to raise money and spend it on campaigns would result in a tilt in power toward corporations because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporate officers to contribute to political action committees. Union leaders fear Prop 32 would silence the voice of workers.

"Who is going to speak for workers across California if we don’t have an organized way to get a dollar per month from several million workers?" asked Maria Elena Durazo of the LA County Federation of Labor.

While admitting Prop 32 will impact organized labor’s clout, Romero denies Prop 32 is specifically targeting organized labor.

"It actually gives the power to the individual worker to decide for himself or herself how they wish to contribute to political causes," said Romero.

But Durazo disagrees.

"If Prop 32 passes," he said, "we are shut out of the process."

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