LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Labor union members claim Proposition 32, which would limit how unions raise money for California political campaigns, would rob them of their political power.
A clause in the proposition on the November ballot would prohibit unions from payroll-deducted funds for political purposes.
Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said the provision weakens the ability of unions to participate in elections.
“They could still try to get voluntary donations from members, but without that steady stream of income via the payroll deductions, it would be a lot harder for them,” he said.
Maria Elena Durazo from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor said, “Without payroll deduction, we could not have the resources to speak on behalf of all workers in California.”
Former California Sen. Gloria Romero, a Prop 32 supporter, said the initiative would actually give power back to the workers.
“It empowers the rank-and-file union member or the union worker at a corporation to say, ‘You can’t just reach into my paycheck and take my money anymore,’” she said.
Prop 32 would also ban corporate and union political contributions to state and local candidates, as well as ban contractor contributions to politicians who award contracts to them.
However, the initiative allows independent expenditures that can be used to support political figures—for example, through Super PACs.
Pitney said that gives corporations an advantage because CEOs can easily cut a check out of corporate funds, while unions have to collect funds one member at a time.
“This will hurt the unions, but not destroy them,” he said.
Prop 32’s biggest donor is Stanford physicist Charles Munger, the son of billionaire Charles Munger Sr.
The younger Munger has given nearly $23 million in contributions to the measure.
“Charles Munger, a conservative Republican, sincerely wants to help Republican causes. Conservative Republicans believe labor unions have been a negative force in California,” said Pitney.
Pitney said a voter should support Prop 32 if they believe labor unions are too powerful.
Otherwise, he said, “If you think (the proposition) would tilt the playing field in favor of corporations and against unions, this is something that you would oppose.”
According to a major poll, only 36 percent of voters are in favor of Prop 32.