Proposition 32: Corporate Billionaires’ Quest to Force Workers to Shut Up

Posted on 30 July 2012

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By Bob Balgenorth
State Building and Construction Trades Council

Apparently we union workers are far too successful at affecting public policy in California. Why else would corporate billionaires be gathering and spending huge campaign war chests, for the third time in 14 years, to pass a law that would force us to shut up?

In 1998 it was Proposition 226. In 2005 it was Proposition 75. Now, in 2012, it is Proposition 32 that will silence workers’ voices and destroy our political clout, unless we beat it.

Those previous measures would have prohibited unions from making political contributions with money collected from paycheck deductions. But after voters realized that corporate funds would continue to flow unabated, with workers left powerless to respond, Propositions 226 and 75 were defeated.

So now in 2012, the greedy bastards have gotten sneakier. They claim that Proposition 32 bans contributions from both unions and corporations. Sound fair? It isn’t, because it exempts their secret Super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporate interests. It also carves out specific exemptions for non-corporate big businesses such as limited liability companies, limited partnerships, or real estate trusts, and it doesn’t affect the billionaires behind this insidious plot.

Further, it claims to prohibit both corporations and unions from using funds from paycheck deductions for political purposes. That cripples unions, but has no effect on corporations, who don’t make contributions with paycheck deductions. They make their contributions from their profits, outspending labor fifteen to one.

So the claim that this in any way restricts big business is a lie – a lie told to trick voters into thinking that by voting for this thing, they would be limiting corporate influence.  It’s a trick to cripple workers for the benefit of billionaires.

Further proof that Proposition 32 is just a tool of corporations is the fact that its major donor list is a virtual Who’s Who of California corporate bigwigs: Thomas M. Siebel, Charles T. Munger, William E. Bloomfield, Larry T. Smith, and A. Jerrold Perenchio, for starters. I wonder why.

Losing the ability to fight these guys in the political arena would soon become a nightmare for working people. If the backers of Proposition 32 are successful, they’ll waste no time moving California backward. They’ll go after the prevailing wage, our rights to negotiate project labor agreements, workers compensation, overtime pay, rest and meal breaks, health and safety regulations and any other worker protections they can get their claws on.

Today, our collective voice and strength empowers us to stop them. But make no mistake; the corporate billionaires are pushing Proposition 32 because they want to rob us of that voice and strength. Think of it as a one-two punch. First, silence our voice. Then come after our jobs, wages and retirement.

In recent years we have elected some good leaders in California who have passed and signed significant legislation to improve the lives of working people.

That was possible because construction workers, firefighters, school employees, nurses, cops, and other workers were able to join together so workers could be protected. This infuriates the super-rich elitists, who want to make sure we never have the opportunity to enjoy that level of success again.

This deceitful measure is referred to as “Paycheck Protection.”  I guess there’s some truth in that because their end game is fattening their own already bloated paychecks, on our backs.

Our enemies will tell voters that Proposition 32 is a reform. But real reformers say otherwise. 

The League of Women Voters says:

    It is really designed by its special-interest backers to help themselves and harm their opponents.

And Common Cause adds:

    Proposition 32 is trying to use our anger and mistrust to change the rules for the benefit of already powerful interests, not the benefit of all Californians. Voters should take a close look to avoid being fooled.

Union members must carry the message. We must reach out to all of our relatives, friends, acquaintances and colleagues to make sure none of them are fooled. Make sure they know how bad Proposition 32 really is.

Make sure we defeat Proposition 32 in November!

Learn more and sign up to join the campaign.


Bob Balgenorth is the president of the California State Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents approximately 350,000 workers in 186 private sector building trades local unions and regional councils. This article originally appeared in the blog Razor's Edge.

As with every other opportunity Mr. Balgenorth has taken to open his mouth, he is lying to you. Proposition 32 (with which I have no professional affiliation or interest) is the first comprehensive attempt to reign in political spending in The Golden State. Bob is correct however when he points out that past efforts at "paycheck protection" have been targeted solely at labor unions who extract dues from workers paychecks, a portion of which they spend on political campaigns. Proposition 32 and previous paycheck protection initiatives require that unions get permission from members prior to using any of their dues for political spending.

Proposition 32 appears to have drastic ramifications for the business community too. Not only will it ban corporations from using profits to contribute directly to political campaigns, but also forbids contributions to any committee campaign, including Political Action Committees and SuperPACS.

How is this not a fair and necessary change to California political finance law? Finally we'll have a chance at parity between the haves (Big Business and Big Labor) and the have nots (the average voter).

This is a fair and equitable solution to out-of-control special interest spending in the state. So "game-changing" is this legislation that unlike past paycheck protection initiatives, the Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations representing businesses are hoping it won't pass.

If you're going to brand someone else a liar, probably a good idea to make sure you have your own facts straight. In this case, you most certainly DO NOT.

Prop 32 is little more than an underhanded effort by a bunch of billionaires and anti-union activists to fool voters. It's not at all balanced and it sure isn't reform.

You claim Prop 32 will have "drastic" ramifications on business. Not so. It's been written to intentionally provide exemptions, in a number of ways, to business groups. For instance, there's no limitation on what corporations and trade associations can spend on IEs or give to Super PACs. No limit whatsoever. Your claim that it forbids corporate contributions to PACs and Super PACs is outright false. In fact, if Prop 32 passes, these independent front groups will have more sway than ever.

As for Prop 32 being "fair and equitable," just about every independent good government group that's looked at it has come to the conclusion that it's not at all balanced, which is why the League of Women Voters and Common Cause oppose.

Prop 32 doesn't do anything to fix what's broken with campaign spending. It just gives more power to the already powerful.

It would be nice if people actually read the text of the proposition. I am still trying to find all the special exemptions for big oil, big business and hedge fund managers. Oh you mean big oil, big business and hedge fund managers can't just take money out of their employees paychecks to spend on their political campaigns like unions do to their members, they either have to earn it or ask for donations. Unions should at least have the guts to say that they would like to continue automatic deductions from union members paychecks to fund their political advertising. What is so scary about letting the union members make their own voluntary donations to union political campaigns? Unions know that given a choice many members would not send in donations. Just like if union members had to send in their union dues instead of having them deductions, the unions coffers would be much lighter. Unions spend money to get their candidates elected to office and then get paid back by those same officials at the bargaining table, screwing the taxpayers.

1. Ban both corporate and labor union contributions to candidates;

2. Prohibit government contractors from contributing money to government officials who award them contracts;

3. Prohibit corporations and labor unions from collecting political funds from employees and union members using the inherently coercive means of payroll deduction; and

4. Make all employee political contributions by any other means strictly voluntary.

Unions shoud have the right to spend money on political activities as long as the members approve the spending. As it is, unions take members' dues money and then spend it usually on Democratic-approved issues and candidates. Republican or independent members are left out of the spending.

You cowards deleted my response to Bob's lies. Smooth move.

Looks like it's still there, Kevin. 7/30 @ 11:something AM. We regularly delete spam and occasionally have had to delete things like hate speech. I know of one time that I accidentally deleted a legitimate comment while I was cleaning up spam. However, we do not delete comments simply because we disagree with them. A look at most of the comments on this blog will show that the majority of them are from dissenters. Why they come here day after day to rant & rave I do not know, but their comments are left up.

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