It’s Labor Day and, at least for the day, the concerns, issues and views of “Labor” are news. And at the moment, Labor in California is facing a vicious attack on our ability to participate in the political process. Labor’s voice — the voice of the people — belongs in the political arena and in the public debate.
Proposition 32, a measure appearing on the November statewide ballot, is not what it seems. While it claims to be about “stopping special interests,” Prop. 32 is a sinister attempt to keep the voice of working people and our unions out of the public debate on crucial community issues including health care, affordable housing, a clean environment, public transportation and workplace safety laws.
Prop. 32 was specifically written to limit the voice of union workers. And while unions would not be able to use dues money for political purposes, corporate billionaires and their independent political action committees would have no restrictions at all.
The deluge of money into our election system has made many politicians more interested in helping the wealthy CEOs who fund their campaigns than in helping the rest of us who contribute less. Prop. 32 is not campaign or finance reform. We are already outspent by corporate special interests 15 to 1. Prop. 32 is a redistribution of even more power to the wealthy and well-connected to influence elections, control government and weaken the voice of workers.
On Labor Day, support the teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and other everyday heroes who speak out on issues that matter to us all, like cuts to our schools and colleges, police and fire response times, patient safety and workplace protections. We must keep these voices in the mix. Let’s get out into our neighborhoods, mobilize friends and family, and defeat these attacks! Vote “no” on Prop 32.
The above is an edited version of a longer piece submitted by Shelley Kessler, executive secretary-treasurer for the San Mateo Labor Council.