The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Prop. 32 may axe union worker paycheck contributions

The political power of California’s unions hangs in the balance as this year’s elections approach.

Proposition 32, also known as the “paycheck protection” measure, is an initiative that disallows unions, corporations and government contractors from using worker’s dues to donate to political figures or campaigns.

“Prop. 32 ends corporate and union contributions to California politicians,” said retired California Supreme Court Judge John Arguelles. “It goes as far the U.S. Constitution allows to end special interest influence in state government.”

The proposition also prohibits government contractors from donating to government officials who might reward them contracts. This is specifically for when a government contract is still being determined.

While the proposition covers corporations and government contractors as well as unions, critics of the proposition suggest that unions are being targeted and ultimately stripped of their political power.

“Prop. 32 is deliberately written to look like campaign reform, but it’s not. It actually gives more power to Wall Street, Big Oil, and those secret campaign Super PACs,” said President of the League of Women Voters, Helen Hutchison in an ad released on the official No on 32 website.  “Prop 32 allows the same special interests to spend unlimited and unregulated funds on the politicians they support while middle-class families pay the price.”

Critics and top contributors to the No on Prop. 32 campaign include the California Teachers Association, California Professional Firefighters, California Faculty Association, and many other major unions in the state.

“Since it’s my first time voting, I thought it was important to do research and see why this proposition was so controversial,” said Belen Soriano, a sophomore in Apparel Merchandising and marketing. “Once I saw  that it only adds to the massive state bureaucracy, and that the people supporting it were the ones exempt, I understood why people were so against it.”

If the new proposition is passed, voluntary donations from union workers would still be allowed if authorized yearly and in writing. While corporations and unions are prohibited from donating directly to candidates, they are still able to donate to Super PACs. Super PACs are political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of funds in order to support their separate causes. Unions are still allowed to use payroll deductions for other non-political activities as well.

“The proposition also makes it sound like union members have no choice about how unions use their political contributions,” said professor Martin Saiz, a Political Science professor at CSUN. “In fact, most people join unions voluntarily, those non-union members that are required to pay union dues are only paying for collective bargaining with their employer—as is, none of their money can be used for political purposes.”

To enforce the new law and investigate claims, the state’s administrative costs could increase to be over $1 million, according to state analysts. However analysts hope these costs might be offset by revenues collected from fines.

Supporters of the Yes on 32 campaign describe themselves as “a broad-based coalition of small business owners, farmers, educators and taxpayers.” Many of the top donors are wealthy citizens, including former Stanford physicist Charles Munger Jr. and former chairman and CEO of spanish-language company Univision, Jerrold Perenchio.

“The issue is tremendously important whether you like unions or not because today they provide the only balance to a system that is already biased toward those with more money,” Saiz said. “Today unions provide the only voice for working people in the state legislature, without it the only expressions concerning economic conditions will be coming from business.

To learn more about Proposition 32 and other initiatives on the ballot this year, go to the California voter’s guide.

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