So today I'd like to congratulate the Los Angeles Times for officially supporting Proposition 75, the Paycheck Protection Act. For those of you outside of California, it's a proposition on next month's special election ballot that, if passed, will require public employee unions (teachers, police, firefighters, state workers, etc) but not private unions (Service Employees, AFL-CIO, Teamsters, etc), to get members' permission before spending any of that union member's dues money on political contributions. I'll quote a portion of the contents of the LA Times editorial, most of which is included in Dan Weintraub's column:
Proposition 75 opponents argue that this is unfair because there is no similar move to curtail the discretion of business lobbyists to invest shareholder resources in politics. But the analogy is flawed, given that this initiative applies only to public employee unions. It's not private businesses that sit across the negotiating table from public employee unions; it's the taxpayers and their elected representatives, acting as stewards of the public interest. (emphasis mine--Darren)
If this notion sounds almost quaint, it is, because it has become so divorced from reality. At many levels of government, public employee unions, aided by their political war chests, have gained control over both sides of the negotiating process. When public employee unions wield the type of influence they now do in California, too much governing becomes an exercise in self-dealing.
To take one example, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has acknowledged it will take a "holy jihad" to assume control of the local school district because teachers unions are so powerful in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Although the mayor opposes Proposition 75, his statement illustrates the need for it.
That said, this measure will hardly take public unions out of the political game. They will still be able to raise considerable sums to influence elections, and they will face no restrictions to continue spending on "issue advocacy." Nor are we under any illusion about the partisan motives of many of Proposition 75's backers, who see this as a means of making it harder for Democrats to raise campaign cash.