Steve Rhodes/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)
Unite Here Local 2 hotel workers protest for a fair contract at the Westin St Francis at Union Square in San Francisco.
A group of conservative Californians have gathered over 900,000 signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2012 ballot that aims, in their words, to “enact real campaign finance reform.”
Commonly known as the ‘Paycheck Protection Act,’ the measure would prohibit unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to political campaigns and from using payroll deductions for any political purpose. The California Federation of Labor, an umbrella organization which represents more than 2 million union members, sees the measure as a direct hit at labor’s ability to advocate for its members. If enacted, the law would effectively restrict political fundraising by labor unions, whose members nearly all pay their dues via payroll deductions – a portion of which goes to political causes.
Corporations will be largely unaffected by this restriction, since they raise money for political contributions through other means. Supporters of the measure say it will loosen the grip of special interests on government and eliminate “coercive” measures of soliciting contributions from workers. The idea of prohibiting payroll deductions for political use is not new – it was floated on the California ballot twice before, in 1998 and 2005.
Both times it was voted it down. Will the third time be the charm? Are Californians fed up with mega-money lobbying by both labor and big business? Will this measure reform what its proponents call our “dysfunctional” political system? If you’re in a union, do your dues go to causes you don’t support, or do you trust them to work for your best interests in Washington?
Michael Capaldi, spokesperson for Stop Special Interest Money Now
Steve Smith, Communications Director, California Labor Federation