If you dislike unions and value justice, Prop 32 is not the answer - Morgan Hill Times: Lisa Pampuch

If you dislike unions and value justice, Prop 32 is not the answer

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Posted: Monday, September 10, 2012 12:51 pm

This November’s general election ballots aren’t even printed, and I’m already hearing ads about Proposition 32. It’s clear that Prop 32 will be a heated issue in the upcoming election.

Prop 32 asks, “Should unions, corporations, government contractors and state and local government employers be prohibited from using payroll-deducted funds, or in some instances their own funds, for political expenditures?”

Sounds like a fair idea at first blush, doesn’t it? But think about it: Other than unions, what group uses revenue from payroll deductions for political donations? As the League of Women Voters said, “few, if any.” Under Prop 32, unions, whose major source of income is payroll deductions of membership dues, would have new restrictions on political spending of the vast majority of their funds, while other groups, which have many other sources of revenue, would have no political spending restrictions on the vast majority – or any – of their funds.

By restricting political spending based on the revenue source, Prop 32 effectively restricts unions and almost no other groups. That’s simply unfair.

Moreover, in the post-Citizens United era in which we live, which declares that money equals speech, Prop 32 looks an awful lot like an unconstitutional restriction on unions’ free speech.

It’s popular to label unions “special interests,” a pejorative that’s applied to unions almost exclusively but applies to any group, corporations included. If passed, Prop 32 will squelch the speech of unions but not other special interests groups, such as corporations.

I’m not a union member. What’s more, I often advocate for public employee pension and benefit reform and public employee compensation transparency, positions that hardly endear me to labor unions. But this is a matter of basic fairness.

Prop 32’s unfairness reminds me of the unfairness in our tax code that allows GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to pay about 13 percent in federal income taxes (that we know of – who knows what lower rates would be revealed if he released a reasonable number of years of returns, as his own father did and every other presidential candidate of the modern era does) on his income, while working people pay much higher rates. He can do that without spending time in federal prison because the tax code has a loophole, the carried interest exemption, that treats his income differently than it treats earned income.

Similarly, Prop 32 unfairly treats revenue from payroll deductions more stringently than it treats other kinds of revenue.

Moreover, Prop 32 exempts super PACS (many run by large corporate interests) and independent expenditure committees from its restrictions. It also does not apply to spending on candidates for president, the U.S. Senate, or the U.S. House of Representatives.

If you don’t like unions, that’s your right. Unions aren’t perfect, but neither is any other human enterprise, including the corporations of the private sector. But if you dislike unions and value justice, Prop 32 is not the answer. If you support Prop 32 while claiming that you’re being fair and impartial, as many of Prop 32’s backers are doing, you’ve wandered into Orwellian territory.

Prop 32’s deceptiveness reminds me of the GOP’s efforts to impose voter ID requirements; those are done under the guise of protecting the vote. They’re pretending to fix a problem that doesn’t exist (a report found 10 – 10! – cases of in-person voter fraud in the United States since 2000) as cover for their efforts to prevent likely Democrats from voting. Those 10 cases are the justification they’re using to disenfranchise millions of voters, most of whom are not Republicans. As a Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach succinctly put it, “If you have to stop people voting to win elections, your ideas suck.”

Similarly, if you have to impose lopsided rules to stop one side from winning political debates, take a good hard look at your ideas and your methods of communicating them. It’s likely that one or other, or both, to borrow Leach’s phrase, suck.

The answer to speech you don’t like is more speech, not silencing one side while allowing the other side to hog the microphone.

Let’s not game our system, codify unfairness and hurt our democracy. Join me, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, the California Tax Reform Association and many others in voting no on the deceptive, disingenuous, unfair, Orwellian Prop 32.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • William Yancey posted at 2:52 pm on Wed, Sep 12, 2012.

    William Yancey Posts: 8

    Vote Yes On 32!

  • Janae posted at 9:07 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    Janae Posts: 2

    According to the Yes Campaign, The bill will allow the voices of voters to be heard again by silencing special interest!
    More here http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/lists-resources/blogs/publisher-blog-gordon-webster/2757-blog-prop-32-gives-sacramento-a-scrubbing

  • WillliamYancey posted at 3:34 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    I'm not sure if I'm dealing with idiots, or paid trolls for the Yes on 32 campaign. Either way, it's a waste. I'm out!

  • raider13 posted at 3:02 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    raider13 Posts: 23

    "No one said unions should not collect dues." You don't even understand the ballot initiative that you're supporting. I guess there's no surprise there.

    Prop 32 is about using payroll collected dues for political donations, not about the right to collect them or not.

    As I said you are a tool, a douche, and a liar. I don't know why I thought you could have a rational discussion. Good Day Sir!

  • jw1 posted at 3:01 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    jw1 Posts: 6

    Take it easy on Yancey. His rants are most of the reason anybody reads these comments or articles online here anyway. It's entertainment, sorta like going to the zoo.

    No one said unions shouldn't collect dues. But, your slick argument by inference that "all the benefits" unions provide necessarily includes contributions to particular political campaigns or issues is a false narrative at best. Unions negotiate contracts on behalf of their memberships to get them certain pay and benefits from the employer. That is what they should do. I would submit that is all that they should do. And to the extent they charge dues so that they can fulfill that duty to their members, of course they should get dues. No one has every claimed that they shouldnt. But taking a portion of those dues to contribute to some political cause that a member doesnt agree with, or in some cases finds morally reprehensible, is simply wrong. And you know it, or you wouldnt blur your argument with such generalizations as "all the benefits they supply". And, this still does alleviate the fundamental unfairness that if you work in an area where your trade or craft is unionized, if you want to work in that field, you have no choice but to pay the dues and belong to the union in the first place. The "kool-aid" here is the belief that the individual worker should just happily give up his right to work unless he joins the union because of "all the benefits" the union will provide. Sure, many unions do a great job for their membership, but why should that mean that each member's political views should have to be bent to match the union leadership's? There is no reasonable justification for this. You might as well force the individual member to turn over his ballot on election day to their union leaders to fill out. The point is, such contributions for political campaigns should be voluntary and under the current system for many paying union dues, it is not.

  • WillliamYancey posted at 2:21 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    Your quote got removed by the MH Times staff, as it should. Fortunately, I saved it so everyone could see the sort of person you are.

    "No one said unions should not collect dues." You don't even understand the ballot initiative that you're supporting. I guess there's no surprise there.

  • hypocrisyhater posted at 2:17 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    hypocrisyhater Posts: 234

    Yancey is always wrong.

    It's what he does best.

    He's, like, the king of wrong.

  • raider13 posted at 2:03 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    raider13 Posts: 23

    Yancey you are a tool and an douche bag. Way to change the subject to personal attacks when you are wrong.

    Post the link to the quote you have there or you have proven yourself a liar.

    Also, no one said unions should not collect dues, you just changed your rant because you are wrong.

  • WillliamYancey posted at 1:34 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    hypocrisyhater on Tara Romero:

    "oh well, some illegal banger killed an anchor baby. Not much of a loss there. Normally I'd call for a speedy execution, but maybe they should just be let go for doing us a favor. Why was this girl hanging out in gang territory, anyway? She was likely up to something. Well, lesson learned for all the other anchor babies." -hypocrisyhater, November 8, 2011

  • hypocrisyhater posted at 12:43 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    hypocrisyhater Posts: 234

    Yancey sides with the unions feeding at the public trough.


    You been following the Chicago teachers strike? You think they deserve the 6-figure salaries and golden pensions they are holding out for?

  • WillliamYancey posted at 11:51 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    The idea that it's unfair that unions expect their members to pay their dues for all the benefits that the union provides them (and I know enough people drink the anti-union Kool-Aid and think that unions are, at best, obsolete, and at worse, some nefarious leftist plot, but, sorry, you're an idiot if you think that), and that, to ensure that their members pay their dues, they deduct directly from their paychecks, is too absurd to warrant consideration.

  • jw1 posted at 11:14 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    jw1 Posts: 6

    I love how Ms. Pampuch claims that this is a matter of "basic fairness" but clearly rejects the obvious unfairness of being forced to join a union to be able to work in a particular industry and then to have part of your union dues go to support political causes that you dont believe in. This comparison to Citizens United is absurd at best. Sure, a union has every right to give money to whatever cause it wants to, just like a corporation under Citizens United. But, that is not the issue. If you know a particular corporation gives its money to causes you don't like, you don't have to work there. And even if you did, typically your employer doesnt take money from you for the privilege of working and then give part of that money to some political cause that you dont like. Similarly, as a consumer you have a clear choice, if you dont like some corporation's politics, you dont buy their products. Fine. But, it's a lot harder most times to not be in a union if your particular vocation is unionized in the area where you live and want to work. To simply brush off the "source" of the money as if that is an insignificant fact here is simply a dishonest argument on her part.

  • raider13 posted at 11:06 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    raider13 Posts: 23

    "The only provision that might be allowed to stand is the one barring unions from collecting dues directly from their members' paychecks."

    If this is all that stands then that would be a win. The other 2 items that limit contributions from unions or corporations to people who award contracts that benefit them makes sense, but as you said the Citizens United ruling (which is wrong on many levels) would prohibit that.

  • WillliamYancey posted at 10:22 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    Apparently everyone has already forgotten the Citizens United ruling, which made it so, under the guise of the FIrst Amendment, anyone can donate any amount of money to any political campaign. Attempts to limit campaign donations now amounts to an infringement on free speech. If Prop 32 passed, it would immediately be challenged in court on those grounds, and the provisions that ban "special interest" money would be found unconstitutional on their face. The only provision that might be allowed to stand is the one barring unions from collecting dues directly from their members' paychecks. This is about as blatant a union-busting bill as you can imagine.

  • raider13 posted at 9:28 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    raider13 Posts: 23

    Romney has nothing to do with Prop 32. Read the ballot information.

    I feel bad for people that take voting advice from an ill informed opinion writers.

    Anyone who injects comparisons to show there opinion that the GOP is bad or Obama is bad only proves that they have an agenda and are not objective about the facts of an issue. You are the same people who only vote for someone based on the letter next to there name, and frankly that is why things will never change.

  • hypocrisyhater posted at 9:23 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    hypocrisyhater Posts: 234

    "...get a ticket from Pennington..." [beam]

    Good one Fred.

    I think that guy has pulled over everybody in town, at least once.

  • hypocrisyhater posted at 9:21 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    hypocrisyhater Posts: 234

    So, apparently, some people are fine with those rare instances of voter fraud.

    No big deal, according to Lisa.

    I'm not. Nor do I see how it is a big deal to go and get an ID. Nobody is being 'disenfranchised'. If you are too lazy to go get an ID, you're probably too lazy to vote as well.

    Yes on 32. We've had enough of unions and their belly-aching.

  • jordanmagill posted at 8:20 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    jordanmagill Posts: 2

    Like I said., read the ballot info. The fact is that this editorial makes absurd, factually incorrect claims. Even the proponents admit that this proposal BANS Corporate and Union donations to political campaigns. Shocking that a newspaper, either because of incompetence or ham handed manipulation --- can get the facts so demonstrably wrong.


  • fredoliveri posted at 10:05 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    fredoliveri Posts: 285

    Aw a Liberal article from Lisa. Just a couple of questions, what does Prop 32 have to do with Romney's tax returns and to state without the loopholes he would be in federal prison is another example of press generated bad mouthing of Romney. Horrific statement. Prop 32 reminds her of the ID requirement to vote that she thinks is a GOP idea to suppress voters. How does that work? You write a check, get on a airplane, cash a check, get a ticket from Pennington, you need an ID. Why would it become a heated discussion? It will pass with big numbers. The citizens of California are tired of the Unions dictating to the population.

  • Janae posted at 8:43 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    Janae Posts: 2

    After reading this piece, I am not sure if the awareness is where it shoulf be of how badly broken Sacramento really is. It is literally to the point that average citizens are clueless as to what is going on right in front of them. Only someone who favored special interests would be against this measure.

  • Rosiedale posted at 8:39 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    Rosiedale Posts: 1

    It is wrong for unions to use automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. If my employer took money out of my paycheck and bought me groceries "for my own good" would that be ok? Or would I say, "wait, you don't know how much I like to spend or what I like to eat. Don't do that."

    Also, the amount of power they have over Sacramento is insane. Did you know that the teacher's union had veto power over our budget??? http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cta-20120819,0,2515386.story
    We need to get special interest money out if politicians are ever to listen to us again!

  • osahon posted at 7:18 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    osahon Posts: 1

    Wait a minute. I'm pretty sure this was a Democrat created bill. And it may not be perfect, but nothing is. I've taken the liberty of providing you some information on the actual language of the bill by ballotpedia:


    As you see, it clearly stops pay to play for all, Union or Corporation, and it's a great step in the right direction.

  • jmccroskey posted at 6:53 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    jmccroskey Posts: 1

    Sacramento displays immense corruption in its political system. Special interests wield almost exclusive power over political decisions due to their HUGE monetary contributions. They make contributions to politicians, and those politicians reciprocate the favor by enacting legislation favorable to their special interest donors. The corruption sickens me. Decisions should be based on what is best for ALL Californians, not based on the whims of those who write the biggest checks.

    We NEED to eliminate ALL special interest donations to Sacramento. So long as special interests keep BUYING political influence, California will never shine with its former radiance.

    Lets return power to the people, and restore the spirit of democracy in California.

  • jordanmagill posted at 6:35 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    jordanmagill Posts: 2

    Shocking that a newspaper can fail at a basic reading test. The fact is that the ballot title and summary were written by elected officials -- all Democrats -- who have no reason to do anything but try to earn union support. As reading your ballot info will tell you, this proposal BANS all Union contributions and BANS all corporate contributions. In addition, it BANS pay to play. Voters should choose for themselves, but it is appalling that a journalist could get the basic facts so wrong.