Prop. 32 would curb union dominance

Prop. 32 would curb union dominance

Oct. 15, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Long ago it became evident that a passion for teaching in California schools was overshadowed by union membership. Far too many teachers became flag-waving union members, choosing union activism over student achievement.

Proposition 32, the “Paycheck Protection” ballot initiative, would not only be a positive change for union employees,but  schools would also benefit because union dominance over the classroom would end.

Prop. 32 would prohibit corporations and employee unions from making direct contributions to political campaigns. It would ban automatic payroll deductions by corporations and unions of employees’ wages to be used for politics.  And Prop. 32 would prohibit government contractors from contributing money to the politicians who will award contracts.

Many people agree that payroll deductions for political purposes without the voluntary consent of the employee is unscrupulous and corrupt. But employees remain silent about this corruption in order to keep their jobs.

The bottom line is that Prop. 32 would greatly diminish unions’ ability to take campaign funds from public employees through payroll deduction.

The fuel feeding the California Democratic machine, through the paychecks of California workers, would be cut off.


California’s educational tailspin is undeniable. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, California’s high-quality education system  was the envy of the nation. California now ranks near the bottom of the country’s education rankings.

We have Jerry Brown to thank for this.

It was then-Gov. Jerry Brown who first approved collective bargaining for state and local government employees. In 1975, he signed the Rodda Act for teachers’ unions. And in in 1978, he signed the Dills Act for other unions. Since then, public employee unions have become the most organized and powerful political force in California. And they dominate all Democrats in the Legislature, as well as Brown.

Teachers turned into union members and began fighting for themselves instead of the students.

The California Teachers Association became one of the most powerful unions in the country, well-fueled by mandatory union dues from its 325,000 teacher members. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the CTA is number one on the “Billion Dollar Club,” a list of the top spenders in California politics.

Tax-free unions

Union income is tax-exempt. Labor unions are registered as nonprofit organizations. Unions don’t pay state or federal income taxes on member dues or donations, nor do they pay property taxes on much of their real estate, a little known gem, according to FOX Business news.

Imagine if Gov. Brown instead had a ballot measure to tax union income rather than increasing taxes on Californians who already pay high taxes. It’s ironic that unions lobby very hard to increase taxes on everyone else, while quietly enjoying tax-free riches.

Holding kids hostage

In 1998, the CTA convinced voters to pass Proposition 98, which amended the California state constitution to create mandatory school spending. Prop. 98 requires that the state spend 43 percent of all state revenues on public K-14 education.

With power, money and the rapt attention of career politicians, the CTA pushed through the smaller class size campaign. But this has backfired greatly. What should have improved test scores and graduation rates, if you believed the campaign ads, has instead provided worse educational results.

To fill all of the new classrooms of reduced-size classes, more teachers were needed. This was the true purpose of the CTA all along; more teachers meant more mandatory dues, which meant more money and power.

But the hastily hired teachers were ill-prepared, and kids suffered. The union grew and prospered.

Parental choice

As the CTA grew in size and power, they were able to quell every attempted ballot initiative supportive of parental choice or school vouchers. And the CTA killed the attempt to eliminate bilingual education programs from California’s schools, forever ascribing English learners to the English as a Second Language classes.

As the CTA grew, bad teachers could not be eliminated.

A report by State Auditor Elaine Howell found that the State Commission on Teacher Credentialing is one of the worst run agencies in the state.

Howell reported, “As of the summer of 2009, according to the commission’s management, the commission’s Division of Professional Practices had accumulated a backlog of 12,600 unprocessed reports of arrest and prosecution (RAP sheets)—almost three times a typical annual workload.”

Bad teachers were not fired, and even criminal teachers were merely hidden away, still receiving full pay, thanks only to the CTA.

“Specifically, we found that in some instances significant periods of time elapsed between critical steps in the division’s process of reviewing reported misconduct,” Howell reported. “The division’s delays in investigating reported misconduct potentially allowed educators of questionable character to retain a credential.”

That’s the power of the California teachers union.



The CTA “has killed or hijacked nearly every reform bill that has popped up in the legislature,” former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero told the Wall Street Journal.  CTA officials “walk around the capitol like they’re God.”

Romero is supporting Prop. 32 and has vowed to help voters take California back from special interests. Romero heads the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform, whose goal is to improve accountability in public schools.

“Ms. Romero believes the only way to bring down the public unions—and ‘they will be brought down, they must be brought down’—is to go after ‘what feeds the beast.’ In other words: payroll deductions,” the Wall Street Journal wrote.

Romero even says in this Prop. 32 ad targeting the CTA that lawmakers seem too afraid to vote to end teachers’ union and other special interest money.

With California laboring under record budget deficits, rampant public employee abuses, five-star public pensions and bad public employees that voters can’t get rid of, Proposition 32 appears to be just what the doctor ordered for a broken state.

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