Join the fight to protect your voice
Fall initiative attacks prevailing wage
By Paul Cohen, Political Director
Carpenter politics are focused on jobs and workplace issues, such as protecting our wage standard. This fall, the fight to protect prevailing wages moves to the statewide level. An initiative on the November ballot would severely restrict, if not destroy, our ability to participate in the political process.
Consider this line from the measure itself: "These [union] contributions yield … costly government programs that enrich private labor unions…" In case you haven't been following our coverage of the charter city movement, that's exactly the language our enemies use when describing prevailing wages.
Unable to win on the merits of their (weak) arguments, they want to silence our voice instead. The "Stop Special Interest Money Now" initiative, which is what its supporters call the November ballot initiative, claims to prevent corporations and unions from exerting too much influence on politicians. But the fact is that the initiative as written will have a big impact on unions' ability to be involved in politics, while not limiting corporate spending in any meaningful way. The initiative would make it illegal for unions to use dues money from payroll deductions (like our work fee) for politics, and prohibit unions from contributing any money to candidates for office, regardless of the source of the money. In other words, it would be much harder for us to raise money, and when we did, we wouldn't be able to support our friends.
"...the initiative as written will have a big impact on unions' ability to be involved in politics, while not limiting corporate spending in any meaningful way." Sacramento Bee senior editor Dan Morain was sharply critical of the initiative in a column written just after the initiative qualified for the ballot. "This may come as a shock, but the 'Stop Special Interest Money Now Act' won't do anything of the kind—at least not in any way that is balanced."
Morain, who is often critical of public employee unions, went on to say, "The initiative is a remake of so-called 'paycheck protection' measures rejected by voters in 1998 and 2005. While those propositions were direct attacks on labor's political fundraising, the new version tries to be clever, purporting to restrict corporate money as well. In fact, it would gut only one side's ability to play in politics—organized labor."
It is pretty clear if you look at the backers of this initiative that they know it will limit unions, while doing little or nothing to stop corporate influence. There is a good reason why the California Labor Federation calls this the "Corporate Deception Act" and a "corporate power grab."
This November, we need to stand up for our right to have a voice, and a seat at the table. Corporations already outspend unions 15–1 in the political arena. Not satisfied with that advantage, some are seeking to make it even more lopsided. Attacks on prevailing wage, and possibly an effort to make California a "right to work" state will surely follow. If you care about getting a job, and what that job will pay, you need to join the fight to protect our voice, and defeat this cynical and deceptive ballot measure.