Proposition 32 limits payroll deductions for political funding

Some are calling it the end of the middle-class, while others call it political reform and the end of special-interest spending.

The passage of Proposition 32 would prohibit unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes and would change the state campaign finance laws, according to the California official voter information guide.

According to the official voter’s guide, a payroll deduction is when an employer withholds money from an employee’s paycheck.

Unions, as defined by the voter’s guide, represent employees in the collective bargaining process by negotiating terms of employment with their respective employers.

In further detail, the bill would prevent unions and corporations from contributing to candidates and candidate-controlled committees, but the restrictions do not affect spending for federal offices, like the President of the United States, according to the voter’s guide.

While Proposition 32 states that it affects corporations too, opponents say the wording is deceptive and that it doesn’t tell the whole story.

“I think that Prop 32 is a trick of the Republican Party to reduce the power of labor, reduce the power of unions, reduce the power of the middle class and reduce the power of the Democratic Party,” said English as a second language professor Sandra Carter.

The president of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Jason Newman, believes it would hurt the teachers union’s voice in politics.

“If Prop 32 passes, the ability of the LRCFT, our faculty union, to impact local and state election campaigns will be severely curtailed,” he said.

Approximately 2.5 million of California’s workers are represented by unions.

These employee union dues are spent on things like Social Security, income taxes and health care.

But unions also use some of that money to fund activities outside of collective bargaining, like political expenditures, according to the official voter’s guide.

Proponents of Proposition 32 claim that it would cut the money tie between special interest groups and politicians.

In other words, politicians receive money from the unions and then vote the way they tell them to.

However, many union members don’t believe that the supporters of the bill are being completely honest.

“Prop 32 claims to be political reform; in reality, it’s really deceptive,” Newman said.

Mike Licciardello, campus political organizer for the LCRFT Alumnes of CRC, believes that the bill is not only dishonest, but it makes politics for unions unfair.

“The most important thing is to preserve some type of balance in politics,” Licciardello said.

“Even though that is what 32 claims to achieve, if 32 passed, it would make the political dialogue decidedly one-sided.”

Opponents of the bill say that although Proposition 32 includes corporations in the prohibition, most corporations do not use payroll deductions to fund politics.

According to the Los Angeles Times, these corporations fund politicians with the money they made via the sale of goods and services these businesses provided.

“I find it curious that it’s making it easier for corporations and harder for unions to participate in the same thing,” said political science professor Elizabeth Huffman.

Both unions and corporations spend millions of dollars annually to fund campaigns; however the amount of money each group gives varies widely.

According to the Center of Investigative Reporting, the top labor unions spent $284 million on initiatives, candidates and parties from 2001 to 2011.

During that same span of time, business contributors spent $931 million.

“Collecting union dues from members is the only way that unions can influence political campaigns in the favor of working class and middle class people,” Newman said.

Like many union members, he believes the bill is just another attempt to throw unions out of government.