Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
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*** CLT&G Update ***
Thursday, May 14, 1998

California’s "Paycheck Protection Act" Initiative

Greetings activists and supporters;

Yesterday I received the following e-mail from one of our members:

Hello, all you exhausted people. We still love you and believe in you out here, in spite of the recent loss.

I have been reading about the California proposition to require Unions to ask their members’ permission before spending dues money on political action, campaigns, etc. I think this is a wonderful idea and I wonder if anyone has thought about getting that one on the ballot in Massachusetts??

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone has . . . and does! It’s so obviously essential, especially after our recent experience.

Surely the rank-and-file members of the teachers union would have revolted if they had even a clue that their union bosses were spending a million bucks of their dues to defeat an annual $600-per-person tax cut. That would have given them more than any raise they could ever squeeze out of a Proposition 2 override! And could the union bosses have beaten us without sucking the million dollars out of their members’ dues?

But don’t look at us to do it! The last nine months of my life have consisted on nothing but around-the-clock petition drive and challenge defense. If I live to be 75 years old, I’ll have only *lived* 74 years of my life—and I’m not about to cut my life any shorter!

If people are so all-fired "all set" that they couldn’t stop for a few moments to sign their name to a petition to give themselves $500-$600 a year, you’d have to knock them down and drag them over to get their signature on a "Paycheck Protection Act" petition! And I’m afraid too many "activists" would be "behind us all the way" after it was too late to succeed.

Yes, it’ll be a long, long time before I’d even consider sponsoring another petition drive, if ever again. It’ll take a new renaissance in citizen awareness and responsibility before you find me behind another such effort.

But if someone wants to do it, I *will* take the time to sign their petition.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see the spin being thrown at the California effort, ie., Marty Nolan’s op-ed column in yesterday’s Boston Globe (below). His slant got me interested enough to look up the actual language of Proposition 226 (the relevant sections, and a link to the full text, follow his column).

Chip Ford—

The Boston Globe
Wednesday, May 13, 1998
Unions see California’s Prop. 226 as a seismic threat
By Martin F. Nolan
Globe Columnist

SAN FRANCISCO - Tom Peyton climbs down from a ladder and brushes off some baroque dust from the dome of City Hall, now being repaired and seismically retrofitted. He talks about an earthquake in labor relations.

"I’ve got four kids in a one-income household, and I’ve got no one to lobby for my cause except my union," he says. "I was born here, and this is a union town. The union is my voice. We fought right-to-work in California and we have to fight this, too."

"This" is Proposition 226, which would require unions to get annual permission from members before using their dues for lobbying or politics. Like many California initiatives, its seismic political consequences could travel far east of the Sierra Nevada. Voters in the June 2 primary will either vote no, strengthening labor’s dwindling role in the American work force, or vote yes, handing conservatives a huge victory.

The proposition is packaged as a "payroll protection act" and also as a major campaign finance "reform." The opening paragraph of the proposed law mentions "contributions to political campaigns from foreign interests," a practice already illegal under federal law, but an effective smoke screen over the main purpose, which is to cripple labor’s political power. This "reform" of campaign finance is more like unilateral and involuntary disarmament. Corporations already outspend labor by a 10-1 margin.

Backers of Proposition 226 once enjoyed a comfortable, 72 percent lead in the statewide Field Poll, but that margin has shrunk to 55 percent because labor is fighting back, as personified in Tom Peyton’s brother member in Local 3 of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Jim Bresnahan.

"I registered 175 members of our union myself," Bresnahan says. One of 12 children born to Agnes and John Bresnahan, he grew up in Lawrence, Mass., with memories of Bread and Roses at the kitchen table. He has a freckled face, a combative edge, and the political skills needed in a statewide skirmish. "Bricklayers often work for six or seven contractors over a year. By the time paperwork catches up with them, we’re history," he says. "This is simply an assault by corporations on labor."

When California labor defeated right-to-work laws in 1958, 24 percent of the US work force was unionized. Today the figure is 14 percent. Few high-tech companies are organized, and labor is now dominated by public employees, especially teachers.

The teachers union has opposed conservative-backed school voucher plans here, helping spark Proposition 226. The California effort was then swiftly fueled by allies of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, who gave $400,000. "We’re trying to get it moving in 50 states at once," Norquist has said.

The foes of Proposition 226 have focused on Norquist and insurance executive J. Patrick Rooney of Indiana, whose agenda includes medical savings accounts as an eventual replacement for Medicare.

But not all backers of Proposition 226 are from out-of-state. Its most prominent advocate is Governor Pete Wilson, whose seven years in Sacramento have been marked by clashes with unions. "If people know what this is, it’s going to pass regardless of what the union bosses spend, because the union rank-and-file are going to vote for it," Wilson says. "And they should, because right now they are being exploited."

Labor’s retort is that members choose how to spend their dues when they elect union officers. The atmosphere is bitter, with labor plotting retaliatory antibusiness initiatives, a prospect lobbyists in Sacramento call "nuclear winter."

California’s 2.2 million union members are now paying attention. Bresnahan the bricklayer says consequences will be more immediate. "I’ve never seen labor more mobilized," he says. "This will carry on through to November, when the Democratic nominee will be elected governor."

From The Claremont Institute
For full text go to:
Text of Proposition 226


SECTION 1. The people of the State of California find and declare as follows:

(a) Contributions to political campaigns from foreign interests that have a specific financial stake in legislation and policy can have a corrupting or potentially corrupting effect on, or give the perception of corruption of, the electoral and governmental process.

(b) Contributions that are taken from individuals without their knowledge and complete consent create the public perception that individuals play an insignificant role in the political process.

(c) The financial strength of special interest groups or the methods used to collect funds by certain organizations should not permit them to exercise a disproportionate or controlling influence on the election of candidates to state and local office.

(d) Candidates are raising a larger percentage of their funds from special interests with a specific financial stake in matters before state and local government and a smaller percentage of their funds directly from individuals. This has caused the public perception that decisions of elected officials are being improperly influenced by monetary contributions and that individuals play an insignificant role in the process.

SECTION 2. In enacting this measure, it is the intent of the people of the State of California to accomplish the following purposes:

(a) To eliminate corruption, or the perception of corruption, of the electoral and governmental process by contributions from foreign interests.

(b) To ensure that contributions and expenditures in political campaigns are made with the knowledge and complete consent of the individuals who are making them.

(c) To ensure that individuals and interest groups have fair and equal opportunity to influence the electoral and governmental process.

(d) To restore public trust in governmental institutions and the electoral process.

SECTION 3. Section 85320 is added to the Government Code, to read:

85320. (a) No person shall make or arrange, and no candidate or committee shall solicit or accept, any contribution from a foreign national. This section shall not apply to contributions to or accepted by a committee organized and operated exclusively for the purpose of supporting or opposing the qualification or passage of a measure.

(b) For the purposes of this section "foreign national" has the same meaning as defined in Section 441e of Title 2 of the United States Code on April 1, 1997.

SECTION 4. Chapter 5.9 (commencing with Section 85990) is added to Title 9 of the Government Code, to read:


85990. (a) No employer or other person responsible for the disbursement of funds in payment of wages shall deduct any funds from an employee’s wages that the employer knows or has reason to know will be used in whole or in part as a contribution or expenditure except upon the written request of the employee received within the previous 12 months on a form as described by subdivision (b).
[ . . . ]

85991. (a) No labor organization shall use any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or any other fees paid by members of the labor organization, or individuals who are not members, to make contributions or expenditures except upon the written authorization of the member, or individual who is not a member, received within the previous 12 months on a form described by subdivision (b).
[ . . . ]

(b) The authorization referred to in subdivision (a) shall be provided on a form, the sole purpose of which is for the documentation of such an authorization. The form shall be prescribed by the commission and at a minimum shall contain the name of the individual granting the authorization, the labor organization to which the authorization is granted, the total annual amount of the dues, agency shop fees, or any other fees which will be used to make contributions or expenditures and the signature of the individual granting the authorization. The form’s title shall read, in at least 24 point bold type, "Authorization for Political Use of Fees" and shall also state, in at least 14 point bold type, the following words immediately above the signature line:

"Signing this form authorizes a portion of your dues, agency shop fees, or other fees to be used for making political contributions or expenditures. You are not obligated to sign this authorization. Your signature below is completely voluntary and cannot in any way affect your employment."

(c) Any labor organization that uses any portion of dues, agency shop fees or other fees to make contributions or expenditures under subdivision (a) shall maintain records that shall include a copy of each authorization obtained under subdivision (b), the amounts and dates funds were actually withheld, the amounts and dates funds were transferred to a committee and the committee to which the funds were transferred.

(d) Copies of all records maintained under subdivision shall be sent to the commission upon request.

(e) Individuals who do not authorize contributions or expenditures under subdivision (a) shall not have their dues, agency shop fees or other fees raised in lieu of the contribution or expenditure.

(f) If the dues, agency shop fees or other fees referred to in subdivisions (a) and included an amount for a contribution or expenditure the dues, agency shop fees or other fees shall be reduced by that amount for any individual who does not sign an authorization as described under subdivision (a).

(g) The requirements of this section may not be waived by the member or individual and waiver of the requirements shall not be made a condition of employment or continued employment.

[ . . . ]

SECTION 11. The provisions of this measure cannot be altered or amended except by a vote of the people.

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