The Next Union Battle in California: Stopping Payroll Deductions for Political Spending


Apparently we're supposed to hold our applause.

While San Diego and San Jose continue to fight their local unions to put a lid on out-of-control pension expenses following the June election, union forces have already begun campaigning against a November ballot initiative.

The ads have started popping up on the web already, declaring "Finally, billionaire businessmen will run California." Don't start cheering, though. In the face of California's huge public-spending driven deficit, this is supposed to be a warning.

The ballot initiative, currently awkwardly titled the "Stop Special Interest Money Act," has two aims. First, it will prohibit direct donations to California political candidates from unions and corporations. This, of course, will have absolutely no bearing on independent expenditures on behalf of candidates.

Second, it would also prohibit deducting money directly from paychecks and funneling that money to political activism. This part of the initiative has obviously drawn the wrath of California's public sector unions. The Sacramento Bee examined the efforts in the wake of the failed recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the passage of pension reform proposals in San Diego and San Jose:

It promises to gut the power of labor unions because they raise nearly all of their money for political and other purposes via payroll-deducted dues from their members' paychecks.

Corporations, by contrast, raise the bulk of their campaign money from donations given by top executives and drawn from company treasuries.

The opponents (Alliance for a Better California 2012) have worked up a sinister but utterly vague three-minute video that attempts to warn voters against the initiative with a montage of people saying "super-PAC" and invoking every private sector juggernaut (Wall Street! Real Estate Developers! Insurance Companies!) that has ever been the villain in a movie with a down-on-his-luck blue collar hero (preferably played by Bruce Willis or Denzel Washington). And, of course, it refers to public employees like teachers and firefighters as heroes who will be silenced from speaking their minds if the initiative passes. It does not mention that union members will still be able to voluntarily donate to political causes and that the unions have the same access to super-PACs that those evil corporations do (like Alliance for a Better California 2012, which is getting its funding from three different PACs for this campaign). They attempt to retitle the initiative as the "Special Exemptions Act," which is weird and vague and no doubt a consultant told them voters don't like special exemptions but failed to tell them they should probably put "corporate" in there, too.

So Californians can enjoy spending the summer watching public unions continue to fight any attempt to make state and municipal budgets resemble anything realistic while at the same time complaining about corporations and super-PACs taking over the state.

NEXT: Peter Suderman on the Dubious Policy Assumptions Behind ObamaCare's Legal Defense

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  1. Chicago Teacher's Unions: 24% Raise Or We Strike

    Nothing screams relevance in today's economic and political climate like a teacher's union threatening a strike if their members aren't given a 24 percent pay raise, and yet that is exactly what is happening in Chicago, the nation's third largest school district.


    1. 24% raise?

      I want some of what they're smoking.

      1. Yeah, I only got a 15% raise. Fuck them.

        But seriously, they're fucking delusional.

      2. It's for the children, of course.

    2. and 5% raise for the next year. Wisconsin didn't teach them anything.

      1. I dunno, Sal. I think Wisconsin may have taught them to stuff their pockets while they can.

    3. I, for one, think that the woman who famously said, "I teaches English" is worth every penny and more.

    4. I see your 24% raise, and increase it by +1 internet...

    5. Rahm could manage a laconic response: LOL.

  2. So spending your own money or at the very least shareholders', who have the ability to sell or vote against the board in a proxy battle is horrible. But forcing working people to pay dues that are mostly use to support causes that have nothing to do with the purpose of the union is just a ok? Got it.

    1. Check

  3. Finally, billionaire businessmen will run California

    As opposed to multi-millionaire politicians who are in the pocket of the unions, of course.

    1. Like businessmen could possibly do a better job of raping and despoiling California. Pssh.

      1. The only billionaire business men in California I can think of are dot com billionaires and people in the entertainment industry. It going to be a hell of a surprise to them when they are informed they are really Libertarians.

    2. Funny, those unions sure wanted money from those billionaires back in 2010 when then wanted to thwart actual democracy by preventing citizen-based redistricting.

      Look at who funded 2010's Proposition 27. It was various unions, Progressive Democrats, and out-of-state billionaires like George Soros.

      Proposition 27 Revealed!

    3. Finally, billionaire businessmen will run California

      I do believe that ironic ad will backfire, given the complete clusterfuck that the unions and their democrats have made of state government.

  4. The guys in that poster are dark skinned. That is racist straight up.

    1. It wwas "othering" of you to notice.

      Also - racist.

      And micro-aggressing.

      You monster.

  5. Progressives: extortion is okay as long as the Right People are doing it for the Right Reasons.

    1. Progressives: extortion is okay as long as the Right Left People are doing it for the Right Left Reasons.


  6. OT: Has anybody else noticed how different that Rachel Maddow looks with her shorter haircut and wearing a tie?

      1. Here ya go Pip.


        I think her voice is deeper too.

        1. She's getting more feminine.

    1. She is a handsome woman.

  7. Interesting. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), who are the biggest spenders in California politics?

    REPORT: "Big Money Talks: The 15 Special Interests that Spent $1 Billion to Shape California Government"

    1. I'll admit that I hadn't predicted the Indian tribes being there.

      1. It's protection money for their casino operations.

  8. OT: Fat chick + yoga pants = NO.

    1. They are forgiving. A lot of women's asses look great in them. But there is a limit to everything.

      1. And wonder why people call you a chubby chaser.

        1. Yeah because I find women attractive go figure. I don't like fat women anymore than you do. But the idea that any women who is not a size zero is fat is just bullshit put out by gay fashion designers and their ugly female assistants, both of whom hate women, the female form and love nothing better than telling beautiful women they are fat.

          You are frankly one of the most tragic victims of this propaganda I have ever seen.

  9. Speaking of Unions, a round up of the pro union people who did the most to damage the cause in Wisconsin. Some of this has to be seen to be believed.

    Pink Dress Guy (aka Miles Kristan). Fined for pouring beer on a state legislator. Flashes TV news cameras wearing an F-bomb Walker T-shirt.

    ? Segway Jeremy. Poster boy for the arrested development, cause adolescent who scoots around the Capitol on his mobility device to better disrupt the public's business and feel important.

    ? Bike Lock Girl. Locked herself to the Senate gallery railing. Harassed CNN News because they were out of state, as if that was relevant to anything.


    1. The stupid is strong in WI. And that's from a Michiganderanianite...and we know us some stupid.

      1. Could there actually be more stupid in Madison than there is in Ann Arbor?

        1. hmmmm.....

          *head explodes*

        2. Here's a true fact for you:

          Epic Systems, which makes the Cadillac of hospital electronic medical records systems, used to be in Madison. They needed to expand, and really wanted to stay in Madison. But the anti-business Madison government actually managed to drive them out, so they are now located about 10 miles or so outside of town.

          That's right. A big software company, the kind of business most cities would kill for, got run out of Madison.

          Beat that, Ann Arbor.

          1. I grew up in a county whose county executive famously told a Fortune 100 company not to relocate there.

  10. The ballot initiative, currently awkwardly titled the "Stop Special Interest Money Act," has two aims. First, it will prohibit direct donations to California political candidates from unions and corporations.

    Sounds like a blatant violation of the First Amendment.


    2. The First Amendment, like the Second, the Fourth, the Fifth, and the especially the Tenth, are obstacles to be overcome to scum like these guys.

      1. protefeed, if you were a union member, and part of your dues were going to ANY political party against your wishes... wouldn't you like to be able to stop that from happening?

  11. I predict that the union campaign will fail- even pro-union members grumble about paycheck deductions.

  12. I genuinely hope the most powerful corporate donors pay politicians to enact more corporatist policies, harming free enterprise and hurting American competitiveness. Would be very karmic.

    1. Still loving those kids, statist?

  13. Good. I hope this works.

  14. In California, you can already opt out of paying the portion that goes to political causes if you are a "fee payer" who is not actually a member of the union. For unionized positions, you have to pay a fee to the union but dues are additional for those who actually become union members. When I worked in the UC system I was in a unionized position but sent an objection letter each year to paying into their political fund. I only knew about it because one guy in the state contacted every person in state who paid the fees but didn't join the union to alert us about it. He took the union to arbitration more than one. I got back a whole $5 every month. That's right baby, $5.

    That guy was righteous for sure.

  15. The Supreme Court should have ordered the practice of payroll deductions for politics ended when it decided Beck. The mere fact that this question has to be put to voters shows that our system is broken.

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