Labor - And A Whole Lot More

Labor's Wise Election Choices

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No issue on the November election ballot anywhere is of greater importance to working people and their unions than Proposition 32 on the California ballot.

As the State AFL-CIO notes in its call for an all-out campaign against Prop 32, it's "a brazen power play" by billionaire corporate interests and other anti-union forces to all but silence labor's political voice, while at the same time greatly increasing the political strength of labor's wealthy opponents.

Prop 32's corporate sponsors deceptively call their measure an even-handed attempt to limit campaign spending. Yet it would only limit – and severely limit – the political spending of unions. There would be no limit on the political spending of corporations and other wealthy interests.

A Prop 32 victory would have a serious national impact, since passage of the measure in the country's largest state would certainly lead to attempts to enact similar measures elsewhere.

California Propositions 30 and 38 also could have major, though less direct, effects nationally.  Both measures would raise badly needed new funds for education.

Prop 30, which is widely supported by unions and a broad base of community organizations, would do it through a tax increase that would be levied on wealthy Californians with annual incomes of $250,000 or more.

But Prop 38, bankrolled by some of the same billionaire interests that are contributing heavily to the Yes on 32 campaign, would raise money by taxing everyone, including the poor. And while Prop 30 specifically calls for added education funds to go to schools at all levels, including the community colleges that train workers for jobs that are heavily unionized, Prop 38 does not apply to community colleges.

There are, of course, other state as well as local and national issues and candidates that are of particular interest to labor. That includes, as it very well should, labor-friendly President Obama and just about any other Democrat.

Although the odds are heavily against Democrats regaining control of the House or adding to their narrow margin in the Senate, that has not kept labor and its supporters from trying to beat the odds.

National Democratic strategists are relying on California to be a leader in raising funds to make that happen. They're sending out an unprecedented barrage of requests to Californians for money for Democratic candidates in general and especially for candidates in battleground states.

Unions are playing an important role in that effort and in many local elections as well. Clearly labor is providing voters at all levels valuable election guidance.

Copyright © 2012 Dick Meister