Community/Labor forum blasts Prop 32

A Better San Diego, a non-profit consisting of community, faith, and labor-backed groups hosted its monthly breakfast forum yesterday, this time using the meeting to host a panel of speakers opposing passage of Proposition 32 on the November ballot.

Prop 32 is marketed as a proposal to ban contributions from labor unions and corporate entities to political candidates and candidate-controlled committees. One specific point of the measure bans voluntary payroll deductions from workers that are directed toward political action committees (PACs).

But opponents argue that while the measure is effective in blocking political contributions from typically liberal-leaning union members, the door is left wide open for more conservative business interests to continue buying influence.

“It’s a significant threat to the voice of working families,” said Diane Takvorian, executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition.

“Prop 32 will silence the voices of working families who continue to be on the forefront of providing essential services to you,” added AFSCME International Political Action Department assistant director Willie Pelote.

The threat, opponents say, comes from an exemption to the law for corporate, limited liability partnership, and limited liability corporation contributions, among others, to so-called “Super PACs,” organizations that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money so long as the expenditures are not directly coordinated with a specific candidate. They say that a blanket ban on union spending, which extends beyond voluntary payroll deductions, cripples labor activism while leaving opponents with a handful of options for promoting their views.

“Even if unions had a bake sale to raise money to get involved in a proposition, we would not be able to spend it,” said forum moderator and San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council secretary-treasurer/CEO Lorena Gonzalez.

While similar measures have been defeated at the ballot box in 1998 and 2005, labor leaders are concerned about its passage this time, due to advertising promoting the current proposition that paints the measure in a light which gives the impression special interest money from both sides would be equally eliminated from the legislative process.

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Prop 32 is going to win hands down. No one should be compelled to contribute political money to issues they disagree with.

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