Tag Archives: Teacher’s Association

They’re in the catbird seat now – but the “paycheck protection” initiative may throw public employee unions out on their ears

30 Jun

I was glad to see Wisconsin throw out collective bargaining – a system that specifically denies public participation in the bargaining process – and I’ll be equally thrilled when Californians pass the “Paycheck Protection” Initative. This initiative would prohibit – prohibit! – the government, including the city of Chico, from deducting union dues from government employee paychecks that will be used for political purposes. It will also ban contributions to “candidate controlled” committees by corporations and labor unions. Furthermore – and this seems like a no brainer – it will ban contractors who receive government contracts from donating to the officeholder who awarded the contract. Now, that last one is interesting – remind me to get back to that.

Currently, both Chico Police and Chico Fire employees have union dues collected from their paychecks by the city of Chico paymaster, whether they are union members or not. These fees go to the Chico Police Officers Association and the Chico Firefighters Legislative Action Group, both registered with the city of Chico as Political Action Committees. These fees have, in past elections, been the biggest donations to any candidates. But the romance seemed to fizzle as the council  started to balk at these groups’ salary and pension demands in the face of a deepening deficit.  In the last couple of elections, neither PAC has solidly endorsed any candidate. The CPOA instead produced a slick video portraying Chico as an urban style crime area that was not properly funding it’s “public safety” organizations and released it at election time over youtube and through an e-mail campaign.

I don’t know if these tactics have any effect on the voters, but they sure made their mark on council, who has yet to take a firm stance with either Chico PD or Fire, giving in to wage increase demands and allowing structured overtime to run average salaries over $100,000 a person, with retirement at 50 years of age,  90 percent of their highest year’s pay, including overtime, and paying less than 25 percent of their benefits package. 

I believe large PAC’s have ruined our elections, and the idea that our “public servants” would use forcibly conscripted money to mount campaigns to enrich themselves with public funds is unacceptable.  The other employee unions have also played heavily in the disenfranchisement of the Chico voter – the SEIU and the nurses union were the biggest donors to the “No on Measure A” campaign back in June 2011. They all get conscripted union dues from non-union employees. These employees are NOT considered members and are NOT allowed to vote on these matters. 

This initiative seeks not only to ban conscripted dues but to ban contributions to candidate controlled committees  by these union PACs. Of course, this doesn’t seem to matter, given that these PACs, as illustrated above, are free to mount their own campaign on behalf of or against a candidate. But, it’s a nice thought. 

Now, at the end, it says, “ban contractors who receive government contracts from donating to the officeholder”. Like I said, this seems like a no-brainer. But look – we have the police and fire department and the other employee unions  in our town, who fill the definition of “contractors.” They “contract” with us, don’t they? But they are allowed to donate to officeholders, both as  PACs and as individuals.   I don’t imagine this is what the authors of this initiative have in mind, but I think there could be a good argument made in court that no public employee should be allowed to donate to the campaign of politicians who hire them. 

I’ve been reading some interesting buzz on this issue. According to tax-happy Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain, the state’s public employee unions are finding themselves “torn between donations to support the (Jerry Brown) tax hike, and donations to defeat another measure…the “Paycheck Protection” initiative…”  Apparently, they are short of funds to fight both, or at least, that’s what they want us to believe. I  think these unions are LOADED – they’ll pour gazillions into both measures, they’re absolutely DESPERATE to hang on to their position in the catbird seat – and fund their pensions.

Morain believes this initiative would “strip them (the unions) of their ability to raise and spend money on campaigns.”  Strip them? You mean,  force the unions to get their money by asking for it instead of stealing it from people’s paychecks?  You mean, they’d have to support candidates who actually share their views instead of buying them off?

You mean they’d have to compete with the rest of the voters, who’ve lately been shoved out of these elections by the ridiculous price tag? 

I hope Morain is right, I hope the employee unions are going bust, in a handbasket. But I’ll believe it when I see it.  Already, the California Teacher’s Union has put $1.5 million, the SEIU $1 million, the federal and state federation of teachers almost $2 million into the campaign to raise the sales/income tax. According to “ballotpedia”, the “No” campaign for the Paycheck Protection initiative has already raised over $6 million – this mainly from the the California School Employees Association, with only $500,000 coming from the California Labor Federation,  made up of private sector employees.

Let’s talk about this more tomorrow (Sunday July 1) at the library, 11:30 am.