Are you ready to give up your weekend? How about your overtime pay? Or
your vacation days, sick pay, paid family leave?
Sound far fetched? Not if Proposition 75, the "Paycheck Deception"
initiative, passes in Gov. Schwarzeneggerís ill-conceived special election.
Prop 75 would restrict the ability of public sector unions to use dues money
to participate in politics.
Corporations already outspend unions 24 to 1 in politics. In spite of that
inequity, many unions have established effective political programs that
have achieved impressive results for workers. In California, union members
have helped elect legislators who fight for working families, passed
landmark legislation like paid family leave, and prevented the privatization
of public pensions.
Thatís where Proposition 75 comes in. It was put on the ballot by right wing
ideologues who are promoting an extremist agenda for California and donít
want working people to stand in their way. Lew Uhler, Proposition 75ís
chief proponent, is the chair of the National Tax Limitation Committee, an
organization committed to "starving the beast" of government is every state.
His co-pilot in this political jihad, Grover Norquist, wants to cut unions
off at the knees so that corporations can run our political system, paying
little or nothing in taxes and slashing employee benefits.
If thatís not scary enough, just look at who is funding Prop. 75. Under the
guise of the Small Business Action Committee, big corporations and rich
individuals are leading the way. Wal-Mart and their Small Business
Properties Association have provided nearly one-third of the reported
funding so far. Eight of the wealthiest people in California, including
Howard Ahmanson who claims his opposition to the minimum wage is based on
the teachings of the Bible, are the campaignís largest individual donors.
These wealthy interests rail against union leaders, labeling them "bosses,"
"czars," and "lords." Unlike the right-wing zealots who have appointed
themselves worker guardians, union leaders are democratically elected and
are accountable to the members who elect them. Who elected Lew Uhler or
Grover Norquist to speak for workers?
Now the California Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Prop. 75. It is clear
that corporate interests are fighting for Prop. 75 in order to rollback the
progress California unions have won for working families. Just this past
legislative session, the Chamber has supported efforts to take away daily
overtime pay, cut unemployment benefits, and eliminate workersí right to a
guaranteed lunch break. The Chamberís big business members are ardent
opponents of paid family leave, expanded access to health care, adequate
benefits for injured workers, equal pay for women, and increasing the
minimum wage, just to name a few.
Just like the prescription drug initiatives, as soon as voters know who is
funding each proposal, they will know how to vote because they know who is
on their side.
Prop. 75 is not just an attempt to kill public worker unions, itís an
assault by Big Business on all of Californiaís workers. The real agenda
behind Prop. 75 is to drive a stake through the heart of Californiaís labor
movement. The fundamental principle behind unionism is collective action.
Workers stand together to express one voice for better wages, hours, and
conditions. Collective action is also the only way that workers voices will
be heard in the halls of the Capitol. Individual workers will never be able
to have the same influence as corporations, but when working people join
together, their interests cannot be ignored.
And collective action works. Just look at what we call the union premium.
Union workers make 28 percent more in wages than non-union workers.
Ninety-two percent of union members have health insurance and 73 percent
have defined benefit pensions. Only 68 percent of non-union workers have
health insurance and only 16 percent have secure, defined-benefit pensions.
Workers in this country are suffering as wages fail to keep up with the cost
of living and debts mount. Union members have also seen losses as good jobs
have been outsourced to low-wage countries and health care costs have eaten
an ever-increasing chunk out of paychecks. Today, more than ever, workers
need a voice. What they donít need is a bunch of millionaires trying to
Health care. Fair wages. Reasonable hours. Paid family leave. These are
the issues that unions are fighting for. If you care about these issues,
let your voice be heard. Join us in voting No on Proposition 75.