Will California Become a Right-to-Give State?
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “is sinful and tyrannical.”
If the sage of Monticello is correct, then California’s powerful labor unions—along with the state government that both empowers and is empowered by them—are sinful and tyrannical indeed. In the Golden State, as, alas, in several other states, unions automatically deduct employee wages and funnel them to political campaigns—without the consent of the employee.
Although it’s hard to imagine California ever becoming a right-to-work state—given labor’s tremendous clout in Sacramento—a dedicated alliance of good government reformers, fiscal conservatives, and just plain sensible folks are working to make it a right-to-give state.
Proposition 32, entitled “Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction,” is a “paycheck protection” ballot initiative that, if successful this November, could—with apologies to Vice President Joe Biden—unshackle workers from their union overlords. In so doing, the measure could fundamentally reshape the relationship between labor and government in the Golden State.
“Right now, we have an alliance of big government, big business, and big labor that makes decisions for its own benefit,” explains Gary Felien, an official spokesman for the Yes on 32 campaign. “It’s a giant political machine financed by big money. Much of that money is collected without the approval of the contributor.”
Prop 32 would prohibit both corporations and unions from automatically deducting their employees’ salaries to make political contributions.
Prop 32, however, would do three things. First, it would bar contributions by both corporations and unions to state and local candidates. Second, it would proscribe donations by companies that contract with the government to the politicians who sign those contracts. Third, and most importantly, it would prohibit both corporations and unions from automatically deducting their employees’ salaries to make political contributions.
“The main point of Prop 32 is that every contribution needs to be a voluntary decision on behalf of the contributor,” says Felien, who is also a councilmember in the City of Oceanside, 25 miles from San Diego.