Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

A Proposition for Protection in California

They say the third time’s the charm.

Some folks in California who care more about the rights of union members than the political maneuvering of their Big Labor bosses hope the saying rings true.

For the third time in the last 14 years, California voters will get to vote on a paycheck protection referendum, which will appear on the November ballot. Proposition 32 is aimed at cutting back on the amount of money that special interests can spend in California’s elections.

The language reads:

(a)   Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this Title, no corporation, labor union, public employee labor union, government contractor, or government employer shall deduct from an employee’s wages, earnings, or compensation any amount of money to be used for political purposes.

(b)   This section shall not prohibit an employee from making voluntary contributions to a sponsored committee of his or her employer, labor union, or public employee labor union in any manner, other than that which is prohibited by subdivision (a), so long as all such contributions are given with that employee’s written consent, and that consent shall be effective for no more than one (1) year.

Ironically, the group opposing the measure has… lots of funding—much of which is taken from payroll deduction—to fight Prop 32. The SEIU has already donated over $1 million to the effort.

Critics say that there are too many loopholes in Prop 32 and they question the motives of the proposition’s supporters. But those complaints completely ignore the focus of paycheck protection—the First Amendment rights of the employees involved. If Californians wish to ban more entities from contributing to political activities, that is another matter entirely. Prop 32 would let employees control where their money is spent without having to wait and see, and then ask for it back next time around.

The Employee Rights Act includes a similar paycheck protection provision that protects private sector employees from having their dues spent on non-representational activities without their written consent, which must be renewed each year.

Polling numbers indicate that around 80 percent of households—union or otherwise—support this federal paycheck protection.

Prop 32 is different than the ERA’s paycheck protection rules, but empower employees and but their interests and rights before the whims of union leaders.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights ActNewsPolitical MoneySEIU