Under Proposition 75, unions would have to ask permission from
members before contributing to political causes
Gilroy – Unions are broadcasting the claim on radio and television spots across the nation: Proposition 75 is unnecessary and unfair.
The proposition – which would give union members the option of not contributing money to political causes – is unfair because it’s an all-out attack on teachers, nurses, firefighters and police but doesn’t address corporate contributions. It’s unnecessary because members can already opt out, said Michelle Nelson, president of the Gilroy Teachers Association.
Dale Morejon agrees.
“It is a corporate attack on public, political unions,” said the California Teacher’s Association chapter services consultant.
But Gerry Sorensen, executive vice president of the Sacramento-based National Tax Limitation Committee and co-author of 75, said that logic is flawed.
“If that’s true and union members already have the right to easily opt out why are they spending $50 million to defeat it?” he said.
The reason unions don’t want 75 to pass is because they want to continue sending union dues to fund their pet political projects, while making the opt-out process a bureaucratic nightmare, said the Los Altos resident.
Members can opt out but they only have a 22-day window to do so and they lose some union rights and are not considered a full union member but still have to pay dues.
“The process they have today is extremely anti-union,” said Sorensen.
Although strong conservatives and Schwarzenegger supporters are the Californians most vehemently supportive of 75 there are union members who aren’t happy that their paycheck is being skimmed to fund a cause they support, said Sorensen.
But Nelson said if 75 passes she will spend the first month of the school year buried under paperwork. Prop. 75 does stipulate that union presidents would have to get signatures from every member annually.
“It would be a paper nightmare,” she said. “We could do it but it would be extremely time-consuming.”
The member would check a box saying if he or she wanted to contribute to political causes. If they check “yes” the next question will be “how much?”
Sorensen said it would be a simple procedure and thinks its amusing that an organization that thrives on bureaucracy is now complaining about it.
“When was the last time the union didn’t want to create a bureaucracy?” he said.
Nelson said since individual teachers don’t have the money to contribute millions to political causes, if 75 passes the educational issues they stand behind will suffer.
“Corporations don’t ask the workers who work for them if they mind,” she said. “I think the agenda is just to clear the way for businesses.”
Morejon views the pro-75 group as a group of “right-wing, Karl Rovian, anti-tax,” individuals with a hidden agenda.
He hopes that voters will realize what 75 is all about by the time they get to the polls in November.
“Californians get it and I hope they will see through these things as veiled attacks to get at public workers,” he said.
But Sorensen said the agenda behind 75 isn’t covert at all.
“It’s so simple,” he said. “I just never in my life heard of anybody being hurt having a choice as to what they wanted to do with their money.”