Prop would kill union contributions

Among the other California ballot initiatives vying for voter approval in November’s election is Proposition 32. Advertisements supporting and bashing the initiative are cropping up on television, radio and in newspapers across the state. Proposition 32, known as the “paycheck protection” initiative, bans all corporate and union contributions to state and local campaigns.

Santa Monica College’s Board of Trustees voted to publically oppose the initiative at the October meeting, saying it would prohibit supporters of community colleges—namely employee and teachers unions—from participating in public elections.

“This initiative would make it difficult for unions to raise money,” says Louise Jaffe, trustee. “It can have a direct impact on the college. Labor unions are friends of public education.”

The board reasoned that because the measure doesn’t apply to private corporations, equity firms or individuals, it targets middle class workers and members from labor unions and restricts their voice in public elections.

The proposition will also ban contributions by government contractors to politicians and ban automatic deductions from wages by corporations, unions and government employees.

According to polling conducted by the Public Policy Institute in late September conducted, 40 percent of likely voters said they didn’t want the proposition to pass while 51 percent support it.

According to the Los Angeles Times, supporters of Prop 32 say it would reduce union influence on politicians to make them more accountable to voters.

Proponents include the American Future Fund, backed by billionaire oil and energy tycoons Charles and David Koch, which has so far allocated 4.8 million dollars to support the Proposition, according to Politico.

Other supporters include billionaire Charles Munger, Jr. who donated close to one million dollars, and The Republican Party, according to Ballotpedia.

But opposition isn’t just found at SMC’s board. Steve Smith, Communication Director for the Labor Federation, says defeating Prop 32 is at the top of his priority list. “It’s an effort to disguise an attack on unions under a phony veneer of reform,” he says.

Smith says the proposition is an unbalanced measure that targets unions and prevents workers from having a collective voice while exempting wealthy individuals and corporations from the same restrictions.

Other opponents of Prop 32 are The California Teachers Association who donated over $18 million, the California School Employees Association who donated 1.6 million dollars and The Democratic Party.

According to the Huffington Post, most union contributions go to Democratic campaigns.

Additionally, The League of Women Voters also object to the measure and say it gives an advantage to private corporations. “It unfairly targets one set of large campaign donors while giving the other donors unlimited power, says Raquel Beltran, Executive Director at the League.

Even if the proposition stands in November, supporters might have a constitutionality fight ahead. The US Supreme Court decided in January of 2010 that the first amendment prohibited the government from banning political contributions by corporations and unions in candidate elections.

The Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case overruled legislation in Montana that like Prop 32 had attempted to restrict corporate campaign contributions.

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