Election season is upon us. There are just six weeks left to discuss not only the presidential election but also an usually large number of state propositions on the ballot.
Among the propositions voters will have to decide on in November is one that deals with an issue that its backers have unsuccessfully tried to gain support for in other ways, and have taken the stance that if at first you don’t succeed try, try again.
We are referring to Proposition 32: Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates; also referred to at times as the paycheck protection proposition.
Prop 32 backers say the initiative will protect workers from their unions taking money out of their paychecks and using it to lobby for candidates and measures they might not agree without their permission. The measure is supposed to prevent the same practice by corporations or government bodies, but the measure is not really about the money coming from businesses, it’s about stopping a primary source of money going to unions that is used for political purposes.
The independent Legislative Analysts says “A YES vote on this measure means: Unions and corporations could not use money deducted from an employee’s paycheck for political purposes.”
What Prop 32 does not do is take money out of politics. It does not limit the influence of business Super Pacs; it also exempts thousands of businesses.
But truth be told, businesses are not the only ones exerting powerful influence through money these days, so do some of the larger unions. Some call that a leveling of the playing field between the individual worker and large corporations. Others say it is imposing the will of the union on its members.
If passed, Prop 32 will demand that a union get yearly approval from non-union members to spend their dues on political activities.
Some union workers might see that as a good thing, but others see it as a weakening of the bodies that are supposed to represent them.
This is not the first time the issue has been on the ballot, past efforts have been defeated by a strong well-funded labor unions that get their members to the polls to vote.
This year, more than ever in the past, the role and influence of labor unions has come under scrutiny and fire. So has the role of corporations.
Voters will have to decide the issue again in November. This time around, we make no recommendation.