An Objective View of Proposition 75 (really…)

In a stack of papers called Legislation.

  • Oct
  • 17
  • 2005

Attention Everyone of Voting Age in California: You need to vote in the November Special Election, whether you agree with my political stances or not. If you do not vote, then a small minority will decide the fate of some rather wide-ranging issues.

Speaking with a colleague today made me realize that I need to post here on a regular basis again. The special election is right around the corner and I have done very little to encourage everyone to vote (for some background, read an earlier discussion of the propositions).

Last Wednesday, I received an email titled “How Our Union Dues Are Being Spent,” a letter supposedly drafted by teachers and meant to show that Proposition 75 is really in the best interest of teachers. It was an attempt to play the pathos card, to get me thinking, “Well, if other teachers support the proposition, then maybe I should rethink my position!” The email paints prop. 75 as giving teachers a choice in how their money is spent, while completely ignoring the fact that prop. 75 will render unions ineffective politically.

Such a simplistic interpretation of the proposition is misinformed at best and malicious at worst.

Unions need to take political action on a regular basis and anything done to stymie that action means that unions cannot fight for union members on anything approaching the scale that politicians fight for their agendas. If unions are to take on politicians when they suggest legislation that is bad for union members, unions need to be ready to battle on the same level as those politicians.

Here’s the response I sent to the email (which bounced back to me since the address used to send the email is not accepting rebutals, a sure sign of cowardice):

Regarding prop. 75:

There is already a way for individual teachers to request their union dues not be spent for political purposes; teacher’s can opt out of the union’s political stances (addendum: see an announcement from the National Right to Work Foundation, circa 1997). If that’s what you would like, shame on you for not further investigating the options you have.

However, quite often, those political stances the unions take are taken in order to afford teachers the recompense and benefits that we enjoy and deserve. It is not as if CTA is taking political action unrelated to their call as leaders of the teacher’s union.

Prop. 75 only weakens the power that the CTA has. Do politicians need to ask permission to spend donated money on a particular political cause? Of course not; that would be ridiculous. So while politicians are free to spend the money they’ve gathered on whatever causes they want, CTA needs to ask permission before getting out there to defend teachers and the work we do. That is also ridiculous.

To be required to get everyone’s permission, something that will be incredibly difficult and will not likely happen for a majority of the work the CTA needs to do, is really just a way of handicapping the CTA and preventing them from taking *any* political action. The CTA has fought against the current governor and it’s no wonder he would like them to simply shut up. Prop. 75 is a way to do exactly that.

Voting for Prop. 75 is voting to take away the only voice teachers have in politics; a collective voice, that of the CTA, is the only way teacher’s needs will be heard by politicians who are used to being lobbyed.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


1. tom says:

[10/17/2005 - 5:47 pm]

One of the best arguments against 75 I have seen online.


[10/18/2005 - 2:04 pm]

Hooray, I was hoping that a Person who is a member of CTA would see the truth and speak about it. So many times, when people feel that they want those extra couple dollars in their paycheck, do they overlook what is really being bought with the monies….I did hear that there was alot of anger around how CTA was mandating a small amount to just politics….when mandates happen, some people get ruffled…

I actually volunteered an extra some to my union for political activities. Nothing in life is free and of course, politics is one of the most important things that takes place in America. We are a democratic nation, so we claim, and voting is just what that means. In order to get votes, you have to get attention. That is real tough if you havent got money in which to get the attention you want and usually deserve.

I just hope that there are many more people who shed their naive viewpoints… I know they are very intelligent people if they just get over their hard feelings…Unions must absolutely be able to engage in politics… because we all know that the Corporations of America (and elsewhere?) are not looking out for the “worker bees” of our nation. Without organized labor, no one would be….not even our government.
Read it and weep, but see the truth before it is too late.

3. Jason says:

[11/7/2005 - 12:51 pm]

A yes vote on 75 will force the unions to justify thier political stance to the members. This way the union is truely representing the interests of the member instead of thier own political agenda.

4. Todd says:

[11/8/2005 - 5:13 pm]

A yes vote on 75 will hold unions to a standard no other political organization is held to. If you’ve ever contributed to a political party or campaign or contributed money to any other cause (PBS comes to mind), they do not have to call you and justify how/why they are spending your money. A contribution to the system means that you agree with their cause enough that you trust their spending. If members do not feel this way about unions, teachers can already opt out of the contributions used for political action. Forcing unions to get permission of all members before taking action is a veiled way of keeping unions out of the political arena.

Just thinking about this pragmatically, imagine how large the CTA is and then imagine the infrastructure needed to contact and catalogue responses from all those members. It’s ridiculous to expect the union to live up to that obligation. and no other organization has to justify contributed spending in that fashion.

Unions already justify their political stance to the members in board meetings, union publications, and barganing. If it’s justification you want, then it’s already there. If it’s a unified ideology, that won’t happen with any sizable group. There are always going to be things that unions do that members disagree with. But instead of nitpicking at such issues, a glance at the larger picture is in order. The way the CTA spends every red cent of yours does not have to coincide with your political opinions. That spending does, however, need to have your best interest in mind. Given that union representatives have more information about issues than members, in much the same way that governmental representatives have more information about issues than citizens, a bit of faith in the union is necessary. Lack that faith? Opt out.