Thursday, March 26, 1998
The disparity between corporate and union spending is growing. Since 1992 (when the ratio was 9-1), corporate political contributions have increased by $229.8 million, while union contributions rose by only $12.1 million, according to the nonprofit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. At a recent Republican Governors Association meeting, the double-pronged goal of this initiative was revealed: 1. Get the initiative passed. 2. Force unions to spend time and money fighting 226 (thus de-funding one of the few organizations able to challenge the big money of corporations).
If you desire to know what a proposition is, look at its supporters. Here are some of those supporting Prop. 226:
J. Patrick Rooney, an ultra-conservative Indianapolis millionaire and the chair of the Golden Rule Insurance Co. He has been instrumental in backing anti-union ballots in several states, and has personally given $49,000 to California''s anti-worker initiative. Rooney gave over $500,000 to the Republican National Committee in 1994.
Grover Norquist, Washington, DC, Founder of several dozen right-wing extremist organizations, including ATR (Americans for Tax Reform). He is seen as a primary confidant and contributor to House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Norquist is the same man who used his tax-exempt-status corporation to coordinate $4.6 million for the RNC (Norquist''s vision, in his own words, is to "crush labor unions as a political entity").
Some people believe with organized workers out of the way, private school vouchers, medical savings accounts, and privatization of Social Security will become a reality in California.
Proposition 226 further tips the balance of power in the favor of big business and corporations. It will make it virtually impossible for working Californians to participate in the political process. It would have the effect of severely limiting the ability to contribute to candidates for school board, the legislature, governor, and the ever--increasing number of ballot initiatives. Proposition 226 would require a complex bureaucratic system of authorizations and forms before employees are allowed to impact decisions that affect their future. Proposition 226 will also cost the state and local governments and schools millions to implement. The initiative is so poorly written, the proposition will also cost millions to defend it in court if it is passed in June.
Out-of-state financiers are bankrolling Propositions 226. More than 60 percent of the funding comes from individuals who don''t even live in California. The initiative is opposed by the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, the California Congress of Seniors, the California Public Interest Group, the League of Women Voters, and the Sierra Club.
Big Business forces us to, at the very least, become aware of political forces targeted against workers. But on Proposition 226, teachers and all union members MUST get involved.
Proposition 226 is BAD FOR WORKERS, CALIFORNIA, AND THE UNITED STATES. Don''t be silenced on this one. Vote down 226 in June.
Paul Karrer is a teacher in North Monterey County and a freelance writer, most recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul.