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It's more than a little ironic that fund managers, bankers and venture capitalists using a fake front group are whining about teachers using ... a fake front group to fight an initiative meant to neuter unions.
An alert from David Dayen in the continuing war on unions as special interests once again roll out the big guns:
After the victory in Wisconsin, many wondered where conservative interests would strike next to finish off unions and permanently alter the power relationship between labor and capital. It appears the next step is California. In November, voters will decide on an initiative, Prop 32, that would “eliminate unions from having any voice in politics whatsoever,” according to one labor official.
In its simplest form the measure, often called “paycheck protection” on the right, would stop unions from using automatic payroll deductions from their members for political activity. Similar measures have been on the ballot before in California, and have been beaten back both times. In 1998, voters rejected Prop 226, and in 2005, they similarly beat back Prop 75. But those were frontal assaults against unions. The difference here is that the supporters have dressed up this initiative as a campaign finance reform measure that affects corporations and unions in equal measure. Prop 32 supports call it the “Stop Special Interest Money Initiative.” Nothing could be further from the truth, says the opposition to Prop 32.
“The people who drafted this are the same people who twice before tried this and failed,” says Brian Brokaw, the communications director for No on 32. “They claim that it’s even-handed, in that it bans both unions and corporations from collecting political funds via payroll deductions. But corporations don’t use payroll deductions for political funds, they just use their own treasuries.”
It’s actually more insidious than that. The initiative has two parts. First, it bans direct political donations to state candidates from both corporations and unions. Neither side does a whole lot of that, as independent expenditures are more common in support of or opposition to individual candidates. But the definition of a “corporation” is made so narrow in the initiative language, granting a number of special exemptions to entities such as LLCs, limited partnerships, insurance companies, hedge funds, developers, Wall Street investment firms and more. “They carefully drafted this to exempt themselves,” Brokaw says. Any corporation could set up a shell company and continue the practice of direct political contributions.
Dave points out the conservative interests of the funders (and boy, are they ever conservative), and most of them fit one of the exempted groups, but the major donors are especially determined to break the teachers unions.