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This initiative requires public employee unions to get annual, written consent from a government employee in order to charge and use that employee's dues or fees for political purposes. This requirement would apply for both members and nonmembers of a union. The measure would also require unions to keep certain records, including copies of any consent forms.
Unions for Government Employees. Groups of government employees--like employees in the private sector--can choose to have a union represent them in negotiations with their employers over salaries, benefits, and other conditions of employment. Individual government employees may choose whether or not to join the union that represents their group of employees. A union's negotiations affect all employees in the group--both members and nonmembers of the union. As a result, members of the group--whether they join a union or not--typically pay a certain level of dues and/or fees to a union for these bargaining and representation services.
Use of Union Dues or Fees for Political Purposes. A union of government employees may engage in other types of activities unrelated to bargaining and representation. For instance, public employees may decide to charge additional dues for various political purposes, including supporting and opposing political candidates and issues. Any fees collected from a nonmember of a union cannot be used for these types of political purposes if the nonmember objects. Each year, unions must publicly report what share of their expenditures was for political purposes.
About 54 percent of California public employees belong to labor unions. The public employee unions include:
California public employee unions are a strong political force in the state. The Los Angeles Times says that they "have formed the core resistance to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's agenda this year."
There is not much good data available on how much unions spend as contrasted to corporations, in part because one must include contributions to ballot measures as well as to candidates. This information is from the Los Angeles Times:
It is difficult to tally the total spent by California unions on politics. The Institute on Money in State Politics, a Montana-based nonprofit group, found that California public sector unions spent $6.7 million last year on candidates, but the amount spent on ballot measures was not tracked.
The institute's records show that donations from unions, public and private, amounted to 5.7 percent of the money received by candidates last year, less than half the combined giving by business interests. Finance, insurance, real estate, construction, agriculture and general business interests made up 13.7 percent of candidate contributions.
Opponents of Proposition 75 cite figures from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (www.crp.org) that show that large corporations outspend unions by 24 to 1.
LWVC Campaign Financing position:
Support state campaign finance practices for candidates and advocates of ballot measures which will ensure full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures and enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office.
LWVUS Campaign Finance position:
The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process.
The League has opposed measures similar to this one on both the state and national levels.
The LWVC opposed Proposition 226 in the June 1998 primary. It would have applied to all labor unions; the current measure applies only to public employee unions. In 1998 early polls showed strong support for Prop. 226; however, it failed with 55 percent of voters opposing it.
The LWVUS opposed a Congressional "paycheck protection" proposal, stating these reasons:
The rebuttal to the supporters' argument was signed by Lieutenant Ron Cottingham, President, Peace Officer's Research Association of California; Mary Bergan, President, California Federation of Teachers; and Deborah Burger, President, California Nurses Association.
Other organizations opposing Proposition 75 include the LWVC, the Congress of California Seniors, and Sierra Club California.
Chris Carson, LWVC Government Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Sullivan, LWVC Legislation Director, email@example.com
Trudy Schafer, LWVC Program Director/Advocate, 801 12th Street, Suite 220, Sacramento 95814, 916-442-9210, Fax 916-442-7362,firstname.lastname@example.org
Alliance for a Better California, No on Proposition 75, 1510 J Street, Suite 210, Sacramento 95814, 916-443-7817, http://www.betterca.com/prop75
Public Employee Union Dues
Note: Please adapt this letter to your own community and check your local paper's word limit for published letters.
For more information on this proposition, go to Smart Voter's coverage.