Tag Archive for Proposition 32 (November 2012)

My Report on www.UnionWatch.org: Tracking California’s November 2012 Elections Related to Labor Issues

See my article posted this morning (November 5, 2012) on www.UnionWatch.org called Tracking California’s November 2012 Elections Related to Labor Issues.

If you are a regular reader of the Dayton Public Policy Institute blog (a project of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC), you know a lot about the following races in California:

  • Proposition 32 – Stop Special Interests state ballot measure (includes “paycheck protection”)
  • Measure V – proposed charter in Costa Mesa
  • Proposition P – proposed charter in Escondido
  • Measure I-12 – proposed charter in Grover Beach
  • Measures Q and R – authorization to borrow $414 million through bond sales for construction at Sacramento City Unified School District (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)
  • Measure Q – authorization to borrow $348 million through bond sales for construction at Solano Community College District  (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)
  • Measure E – authorization to borrow $360 million through bond sales for construction at West Contra Costa Unified School District (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)
  • Proposition Z – authorization to borrow $2.8 billion through bond sales for construction at San Diego Unified School District (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)

There are also some elections for local government offices in California that have significance for people interested in labor policy issues.

City of San Diego

If Republican Ray Ellis defeats Democrat Councilwoman Sherri Lightner for the one undecided city council race (in La Jolla), Republicans will have a 5-4 majority on the city council. What a change from ten years ago, when Republicans almost disappeared from a city council they had long controlled. (I credit the Republican Party of San Diego County for this transformation: see my www.FlashReport.org article The Untold Story: Years of Challenging, Unglamorous Work Led to Big Republican Election Night in San Diego on June 5.

Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio stands a good chance of defeating Democrat Congressman Bob Filner and getting elected as Mayor of San Diego. A few weeks ago I wrote an article comparing DeMaio’s campaign to the 2010 campaign of Rob Ford, a libertarian-oriented city council member who unexpectedly won election as Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (See Carl DeMaio’s Campaign for Mayor of San Diego Echoes Rob Ford’s Successful Campaign for Mayor of Toronto.) Chris Reed wrote the following in a November 1, 2012 article for The American Spectator (Anger Mismanagement on the Ballot; linked at www.CalWatchdog.com as Will San Diego Elect a Gay Libertarian or a Snarling Misanthrope as Mayor?):

All this is remarkably good news for DeMaio and for libertarians who have long wondered what a government run by a Reason-blessed true believer would be like…If Filner has this [negative] effect on enough people, in five weeks time, America’s eighth-largest city will inaugurate as mayor a brash reformer bent on transforming the government status quo. Thanks to a June initiative primarily authored by DeMaio, San Diego is by far the largest U.S. city to have ended costly defined-benefit pensions for nearly all its new hires. As mayor, DeMaio would ramp up San Diego’s already-aggressive attempts to bid out a wide array of government services. He also wants to end automatic “step” pay increases given to public employees just for years on the job and to finally bring to government the productivity revolution that has fueled U.S. private-sector growth for two decades. The goal, DeMaio told me in April, is to set up a national model for downsized, efficient government. If elected, DeMaio appears likely to have a GOP majority on the City Council. If these more conventional Republicans back him up, San Diego could become Ground Zero for government experimentation – of a sort that many will call radical but that libertarians will call long-overdue.

City of Costa Mesa (Orange County)

In the City of Costa Mesa, three of the four city councilmembers (the 3Ms, Gary Monahan, Steve Mensinger, and Colin McCarthy) who voted in 2011 with Councilman Jim Righeimer to “outsource” government services and put the Measure V charter on the ballot in 2012 are running as a slate. They are challenged by a slate of three candidates associated with a group called Costa Mesans for Responsible Government who oppose outsourcing and the charter. Obviously this a battle based largely on labor issues.

City of Brentwood (San Francisco Bay Area, in Contra Costa County)

In the City of Brentwood, unions are trying to keep Mayor Bob Taylor in office. Taylor voted in 2009 and 2010 to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to build the city’s civic center and associated parking garage. I wrote about this race in Electrical Workers Union Tries to Salvage Political Career of City of Brentwood Mayor Robert Taylor (Bob Taylor) and Contra Costa Times Recognizes Fiscally Responsible Candidates for Brentwood City Council: Endorsements EXCLUDE Project Labor Agreement Supporters.

Happy Holidays: News Coverage of California Labor Issues on Labor Day 2012

It seems to me that Labor Day news coverage focusing on labor union issues in California was much less in 2012 than in past years. I have a big file of Labor Day press clips from when unions were flying high during the years of Governor Gray Davis (1999-2003), but this year’s news coverage is fairly sparse.

Here’s various Labor Day 2012 news stories, opinion pieces, and press releases about labor unions and labor policy issues in California:

Los Angeles Daily News article (On Labor Day, Trying Times for Organized Labor – Los Angeles Daily News – September 2, 2012) reports that unions are on the defensive in politics, in commerce, and in collective bargaining for government employees.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported on the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council‘s annual Labor Day picnic in Santa Cruz. Quotes from attendees mainly refer to the legislative accomplishments of unions from 125 years ago. The Vice President of the Labor Council is quoted as saying, “Who had ever heard of a weekend before the unions came along? People assume it’s there and always has been there, and it hasn’t.” See Picnic Draws Union Members to DeLaveaga Park – Santa Cruz Sentinel – September 3, 2012.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, unions provided food for the homeless on Labor Day and received some positive press coverage: Unions Supply Volunteers for Labor Day Lunch at Loaves & Fishes – Sacramento Bee – September 3, 2012. Many of the 75 comments about the article cynically accuse the unions of a public relations stunt.

KQED in San Francisco posted a blog providing a brief history of union power in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Labor Day Special: The San Francisco Waterfront Strike of 1901 – KQED – August 31, 2012.

Los Angeles Times pro-union columnist Michael Hiltzik provided a positive union perspective through a report on the rigors of apprenticeship training for the Ironworkers Union Local No. 416 and Ironworkers Union Local 433 in Southern California. (Ironworkers Union Gives Skills to Members, Public Safety to All – Los Angeles Times – September 2, 2012.) This column relies on the old image of labor unions: a brotherhood of men centered around tough, dangerous work in the construction trades. It also acknowledges some of the shortcomings of unions, including the result of the Ironworkers union having a monopoly on state-approved apprenticeship training for the trade:

Getting into the ironworkers apprenticeship program isn’t a snap. It may help to have a relative, or even a well-wishing neighbor or family friend, in the Ironworkers, but that’s not a prerequisite, nor is it enough. Applicants, who have to be at least 18 with a high school diploma or equivalent, must line up a construction contractor willing to sponsor them with at least six weeks of employment before they can start. That explains why, with the local construction market still soft and the building trades still suffering from about 40% unemployment, there’s a waiting list of about 5,000 applicants looking for sponsors right now.

So there’s a waiting list of 5000 people for how many spots? And nepotism is still important to get in? This is an example of how apprenticeship programs can be used to control who and how many people enter the construction workforce.

Meanwhile, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters took a more relevant and contemporary view on the influence of labor unions in California. Here are excerpts from California Unions Hold Power but Face Peril – Sacramento Bee – September 3, 2012:

Anyone who was paying attention to the California Legislature during the hectic final days of the 2012 session last week could see the political clout of the state’s labor unions.

Countless union-backed bills whipped through the Capitol and onto Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Although union lobbyists lost a few battles, they could count many more victories.

With the Legislature’s Democratic majority utterly beholden to unions for political sustenance and with a governor, Jerry Brown, whose 2010 campaign relied on union financing, unions and their 2.4 million members are at the apogee of political influence.

Finally, a writer for the leftist San Diego Free Press asks this ridiculous question on September 3, 2012: Is This California’s Last Labor Day? This article focuses on Proposition 32, a statewide measure described on the November 6, 2012 ballot as follows: “Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.”

This doesn’t seem unreasonable, but recognize that labor unions, big corporations, and government contractors are all in cahoots in California to perpetuate Big Government, at the expense of individuals and small businesses. Proposition 32 would stop some of that special interest money funding state and local political campaigns, while unions and their cronies in business are determined to keep the status quo by convincing a majority of voters to reject it.

In 2012, Election Day is more important to California unions than Labor Day. Perhaps that’s why there was little news coverage.

They Said Paycheck Protection Would Be Back Again in California…An Archived Post-Election Letter from the 1998 Proposition 226 Grassroots Campaign Team

Proposition 32 (on the November 6, 2012 ballot) is the third opportunity in 15 years for California voters to enact a state law that requires unions to get written permission from their members (and the employees they represent who aren’t formally union members) to deduct money from their paychecks to use for political purposes.

Proposition 226 in 1998 was the first, and Proposition 75 in 2005 was the second (although Prop 75 only gave paycheck protection rights to workers in public employee unions). Both of these ballot measures were defeated by almost the exact same percentage.

On June 2, 1998, 53.3% of California voters rejected Proposition 226. Looking through my old files, I found this June 1998 post-election letter from the nine leaders of the Yes on 226 campaign team which handled the grassroots operation out of Orange County. (This was a separate organization from Governor Pete Wilson’s Californians for Paycheck Protection operation in Sacramento, which handled most of the TV advertising for Proposition 226 under the direction of Mitch Zak, who is now a partner in the public relations firm of Randle Communications.)

The team blamed its loss on an open and deliberate (and highly effective) campaign strategy by Proposition 226 opponents to distract voters from the themes of workers’ freedom of choice and the appropriate use of mandatory paycheck deductions by unions.

The team also pointed out that unions (ironically) took additional money from their members’ paychecks (without permission) to fund a campaign that exceeded $30 million. ($40 million was a number frequently bandied about by political insiders after the election.) This huge sum completely swamped the amount raised by Proposition 226 supporters, who generally failed to convince timid business groups and corporate executives to help their campaign with voluntary contributions.

To prove that the opposition campaign deceived California voters, the letter indicated that exit polling showed 69% of voters “support giving workers the right to choose whether money comes out of their check for politics.” (This percentage was close to the 71% percent who claimed to support Proposition 226 in a February 1998 Field Poll, before opponents began their TV advertising.) Voters supported the concept; they did not support the specific ballot measure of Proposition 226. Attached to the letter was a June 4, 1998 editorial from the Wall Street Journal contending that paycheck protection was not a dead concept.

The letter concluded with a promise that the team would again seek voter approval for a statewide ballot measure for paycheck protection and would maintain their campaign infrastructure for the 2000 primary election.

We’re going to do it again…Please join us in continuing the fight.

This, of course, did not happen in the end. As the state began to accelerate its slide to the political Left, the nine campaign team members went their various ways, some of them to continue the fight for economic and personal freedom in other arenas.

Three have been particularly prominent. Ron Nehring ultimately becoming chairman of the California Republican Party for two terms. Jim Righeimer became involved in local government and was elected to the Costa Mesa City Council, received national news media attention for tackling excessive union-backed public employee expenditures, and is now campaigning for a city charter (Measure V in Orange County) to circumvent costly union-backed state mandates. Eric Christen has been executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction for 13 years, fighting government-mandated Project Labor Agreements at California local governments, and he also attempted to reform a declining Colorado Springs school district as an elected board member in the mid-2000s.

The next effort in California for paycheck protection was initiated in 2005 by Lew Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Committee. It became one of four propositions in a 2005 special election called by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after the Democrat majority in the California State Legislature refused to adopt his various reform proposals. An interesting article published at the time about the lessons supposedly learned from the Proposition 226 failure is in the September 2005 California Political Review magazine: Quiet, Unassuming Lew Uhler.

The lessons did not lead to a different outcome. On November 8, 2005, 53.5% of California voters rejected Proposition 75 – not as badly as the other three propositions, but enough to sink the idea for another seven years. The percentage against Proposition 75 was only .2% higher than the percentage against Proposition 226 more than seven years earlier.

One difference between the 2012 campaign to pass Proposition 32 and the two earlier paycheck protection campaigns: this time the Governor of California is not backing it. This may actually be an improvement in the quest for paycheck protection!

Is the California Republican Party Caught in a Failure Chain?

UPDATE: the California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro has posted a statement on the www.Politico.com Facebook page in response to the New York Times article. He writes “The New York Times piece is grossly inaccurate. It reads like someone who wrote it by doing minimal surface research and calling the usual suspects/detractors.” He also sees hope in the November 2012 elections: “This November, Prop 32 could well pass bring reforms to our system including barring direct contributions from corporations and unions and paycheck protection. When that passes, California will have a more level playing field, Republicans will have a new day and be rather competitive statewide.”


Remember this old slogan of Huntington Learning Center from the late 1980s and early 1990s: “Is Your Child Caught in a Failure Chain?”

I always snickered when I heard or saw those advertisements.

An article in the January 23, 2012 New York Times (“In Ads, Learning Problems Get a ‘Solution’“) reported that the company has “rebranded” its advertising to be more upbeat and positive. According to the article, “Huntington’s spots became known for their stern, stentorian approach and just-the-facts style, in depicting conflicts between parents and children over bad grades and poor performance in school.”

Maybe Huntington Learning Center (now Huntington Your Tutoring Solution) has abandoned the stern, stentorian approach and a depiction of conflicts over poor performance, but the New York Times finds such an approach to be still appropriate when reporting on the California Republican Party. And I’m sure smug urban liberal educated New York Times readers are snickering as they read the July 22, 2012 article “Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline.”

I agree with the general theme of the article, that the California Republican Party should be thriving as the Democrats drive the state into economic oblivion, but instead it is “caught in a cycle of relentless decline, and appears in danger of shrinking to the rank of a minor party.”

Suggested reasons for the Republican Party decline in California include the usual suspects: not supporting government benefits for illegal immigrants, holding onto old-fashioned traditional positions on sexuality-related issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and not supporting the environment, which I’m assuming refers to the Republican Party wanting to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and voting against the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32).

In a shocking case of journalistic oversight, the article neglected to blame the California Republican Party’s decline on its opposition to further restrictions on gun ownership. How did that favorite Democrat talking point slip through the cracks?

The suggested solutions from people quoted in the article include abandoning ”ideology,” no longer being “doctrinaire,” being “welcoming of dissent,” and ceasing to resemble a “cult” that tries to punish “heretics.” Then perhaps the “changing electorate” might vote for a Republican sometimes.

This makes sense, since the California Democratic Party has been extremely successful through being very open-minded and tolerant, accepting a broad spectrum of ideological views and doctrines, and never imposing discipline on its elected officials when they don’t support the political agenda of unions and all the other leftist groups in the state that provide them with financial and organizational backing. (Ha – just joking, of course.)

Also, the article claims that the Republican decline began in 1994, when the California Republican Party and Republican Governor Pete Wilson supported Proposition 187, which cut off government benefits in certain circumstances to illegal immigrants. Allegedly this ballot measure offended so many Californians that only old white people wanted to vote for a Republican again.

Strangely, California voters enacted Proposition 187 in 1994 despite being offended by it. And California voters also enacted Proposition 8 in November 2008 to prohibit same-sex marriage, even as Democrat candidates experienced huge election victories at all levels of government. How does this agree with the theories cited for Republican decline in California?

The article doesn’t mention unions at all. That in itself indicates to me that the article may not be on the right track.

WHO HAS REAL, ACHIEVABLE, CONCRETE SOLUTIONS?

In an upcoming post, I will outline a detailed strategic long-term plan to reverse course and advance economic and personal freedom in California. The plan will provide numerous roles and opportunities for ordinary, average Californians who see the problems in this state but don’t see any alternatives to an inevitable slide to bankruptcy.

I’ve been working on this project for many months and have a very different perspective from the conventional wisdom that has been bandied about by the news media for 15 years about the California Republican Party’s decline.

I won’t be directing my plan to the California Republican Party’s structural apparatus, which really doesn’t care what I think unless I can back up my ideas with a lot of money donated to the Republican Party and its various committees and candidates. Ironically, that relentless obession with money as the silver bullet/easy solution is one of the biggest reasons for the decline of the California Republican Party.

Intellectual ideas are the foundation for a successful and enduring political party. Money is simply a tool for the party to achieve goals that are part of a mission, all in pursuit of a vision. “Raising more money for campaigns” is not a vision that can change the future of the State of California, despite the impression one gets from many prominent leaders of the Republican political establishment.

More later…