VRW Conspiracy to Castrate Unions

The VAST RIGHTWING CONSPIRACY seeking to ban Union political contributions leaving elections to Corporations alone

Carl Bloice  –  BlackCommentator.com

Quiet as it’s kept while the nation’s attention is
focused on the November 6 Presidential election, a
ballot box battle is underway in California, the
implications of which extend far beyond the borders
of the country’s largest state. Here, rightwing big
business operatives have launched an effort that,
should it succeed, would seriously undermine the
political strength of working people and undermine
democratic decision-making.

Attempts to restrict labor unions’ ability to engage in
political campaigns have been on the ballot in
California more than once and each time they have
gone down to defeat. This time, the effort is
masquerading as an attempt at electoral reform. In
fact, it would mean that three million members of
labor unions would be unable to contribute to
political campaigns while large corporate financiers
would be exempted from any restrictions at all.

While the referendum measure, Proposition 32, on
the November ballot proposes to end labor unions’
use of funds collected from members through dues,
and bars corporations from using their operating
funds for backing candidates and parties, the
illusion of equal treatment is a fraud. No restriction
is placed on the ability of billionaires, either
individually or collectively, to contribute any
amount they wish to political campaigns, which is
their usual route. Furthermore, the framers of the
measure wrote in special exemptions for corporate-
linked super PACS.

John Logan, a professor and director of labor and
employment studies at San Francisco State
University and member of the California Teachers
Association warns that, “If Prop. 32 passes in
November, right-wing activists will promote a
tsunami of ballot initiatives in 2013 at the local
level and in 2014 at the state level designed to drive
down working conditions in both the public and
private sectors. Lacking the ability to oppose these
reactionary measures under the new election rules,
California’s workers could soon face some of the
weakest labor standards in the country.”

“Prop. 32 is not campaign finance reform, but a
billionaires’ bill of rights, one that would be a game-
changer in California politics,” Logan wrote recently.
“When it comes to ballot initiatives, Prop. 32 is the
ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

The hardly pro-labor San Jose Mercury-News says
Proposition 32 is “a deceptive sham that would
magnify the influence of wealthy interests while
shutting out many middle-class voters.”

The Proposition 32 campaign is being run by a
superpac that operates mostly in the shadows but is
linked to the notorious Koch Brothers and others
who have bankrolled anti-union campaign in other
parts of the country. The group most publicly
identified as a promoter of the proposition the
Lincoln Club of Orange County. The 50-year-old
business group is associated with Republican Party
operations and its founding members and past
luminaries have included such rightwingers as
Arnold O. Beckman, the founder of Beckman
Instruments, Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s
Berry Farm, and Si Fluor of the Fluor Corporation,
former U.S. President Richard Nixon, and actor
John Wayne. The group’s leaders say it was
“instrumental” in advocating for the recent Supreme
Court Citizens United decision that defined
corporations as people with regards to campaign
contributions. Two years ago, the group joined Tea
Party activists in a failed attempt to restrict union
political contributions, but that failed to qualify for
the ballot.

As the progressive activist network, Credo, describes
it, Proposition 32 “could cripple our ability to beat
back right-wing candidates and ballot initiatives in
California for decades to come.”

“Proposition 32 was written to limit the voice of
nurses and other working people in Sacramento,
while giving free reign for corporate interests and the
wealthiest Californians to exert limitless influence
over public policy in California. RN duties and rights
will be encumbered and made subordinate to the
hospital industry’s for-profit business enterprise.”
DeAnn McEwen, RN, co-president of the California
Nurses Association/National Nurses United, wrote
September 27 in Daily Kos.

“For nurses, that means that we would have far less
ability to counter the efforts of the wealthy hospital
industry, insurance companies, pharmaceutical and
health technology corporations who are in the halls
of the Capital every day lobbying to roll back
longstanding workplace safety regulations to
increase their own profits at the public’s expense,”
wrote McEwen. “Similarly, other public safety
workers and teachers would be unable to fight
effectively on issues that matter to us all – like cuts
to our schools and colleges; and, police and fire
response times.”

But this is not just a California story.

The Nation magazine’s Washington correspondent
and regular commentator on MSNBC, John Nichols,
was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago where
he address a group of determined local union
activists. He called Proposition 32 “an absolutely
critical matter” of “relevance to the whole country.”
If it passes, he wrote recently, “it will go national
just as groups like the American Legislative
Exchange Council and its corporate allies are
mounting multi-state drives to silence unions.”

If Prop 32 passes, unions “could become almost
extinct in California politics,” UC San Diego political
science professor, Thad Kousser, told Nichols. “First
they silence our voice,” says the California Labor
Federation. “Then they will come after our jobs,
wages and retirement.”

Three million members of labor unions would be
unable to contribute to political campaigns while
large corporate financiers would be exempted from
any restrictions at all

“In Michigan, unions are trying to get ahead of the
fight with a “Protect Our Jobs” amendment on the
ballot this fall that would add the right to collective
bargaining by public and private sector employees to
the state Constitution,” wrote Nichols, author of the
new book Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the
Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street.
“Right-wing interests have poured millions into a
brutal ad campaign falsely claiming that the
amendment would block schools from removing
employees who are former criminals. Michigan’s
Protect Working Families coalition has countered
with the truth: `States with higher levels of collective
bargaining have lower poverty levels, higher average
incomes, fewer workplace deaths and higher
pension and health insurance coverage for all
workers, according to the Economic Policy
Institute’.”

“In an honest fight, voters will protect collective
bargaining rights, as they did last fall in Ohio by a
62-38 margin,” wrote Nichols. “That’s why Mitt
Romney, the Koch brothers and their billionaire pals
are spending so heavily – and campaigning so
dishonestly – to silence the voice of unions. And
that’s why, as important as the presidential race is,
it’s also vital to win fights to maintain the capacity
of working people to speak truth to power.”

In an opinion piece in the Contra Costa Times last
month, Leonard McNeil, vice mayor of San Pablo
and a professor of political science at Contra Costa
College, called Proposition 32 an attempt “by
conservative forces in California to curtail and stifle
the voices of working people” and an effort “to align
the political system with their ideological vision.” It
represents, he wrote, “a frontal assault on
democratic pluralism to advance the agenda of
corporations and the wealthy.”

This latest well-financed and deceptive effort to
restrict labor ability to influence political decision
making in California and the nation are not
unrelated to the coordinated efforts to smash public
sector unions, the Citizens United decision and the
ongoing voter repression conspiracy. The plutocrats
and the rightwingers have seen the handwriting on
the wall in terms of political and demographic
trends in the country and they are determined to
reshape politics in the interest of the one-percent by
curtailing democratic decision-making

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