The Stakes are Huge - We Must Focus on the November Election NOW

July 2012 -  Elections are always important, and always require working men and women to be vigilant, focused and well-organized; and to turn out in huge numbers to protect our quality of life.

I say that about every election cycle, because it is true of every election cycle. But a look at the November 2012 ballot makes it clear that California workers have never had more at stake on a single ballot, and that campaign fatigue is a luxury we simply cannot afford. We need to engage now.

In November, California voters will:

·        Enact or reject the Special Exemptions initiative, to silence the voices of workers and unions in election campaigns, while creating special exemptions to guarantee that corporations and SuperPAC billionaires maintain the power to advance their agendas.

·        Enact or reject Governor Jerry Brown’s tax plan, which will ensure that the state maintains the resources to fund essential public services, and to move ahead with crucial, job-creating public works projects.

·        Decide to help re-elect President Obama, who boldly acted to stem the Bush Administration’s economic collapse with a vital injection of job creating public works funding; or replace him with rich Republican Mitt Romney, who has vowed to dismantle union protections for workers on “Day One” if he’s elected, and return to the disastrous Bush policies of even greater tax cuts for the rich.

·        Decide whether pro-billionaire Republicans keep control of Congress, or whether Democrats who want to move President Obama’s middle class recovery forward get a stronger voice.

·        Protecting pro-worker Democratic majorities in the state Legislature, and potentially reaching two-thirds supermajorities that would enable the passage of important revenue-raising measures in spite of lockstep Republican opposition.

That corporate exemption measure, like Proposition 226 in 1998 and Proposition 75 in 2005, is designed to silence workers by prohibiting unions from making political contributions with money collected from paycheck deductions. We fought hard and defeated those measures, so our enemies have gotten sneakier this time, by falsely claiming that it would also limit corporate contributions.

But corporations don’t make contributions by paycheck deductions, so it would impose no limits at all on corporate spending. Make no mistake, this is an effort funded by right-wing corporate billionaires to silence your political voice and leave them entirely free to destroy your quality of life. We can’t let them succeed.

The Governor’s tax proposal would help close the state’s nagging deficit by raising about $8.5 billion through a quarter-cent sales tax increase, combined with an income tax hike on the wealthiest Californians. The alternative is heretofore unthinkable cuts to education and public safety, and a lack of funding for public works projects the state desperately needs, and that would create thousands of good paying construction jobs. Governor Brown tried to compromise with Republicans on revenues but they have unanimously refused, so he has turned to the voters. Now we need to deliver a victory.

The corporate money spent to defeat workers’ interests on these measures will be huge. We’ll need a massive, well-organized effort of our own to beat them.

Meanwhile, on the national level, Republican Mitt Romney is taking anti-union and anti-worker rhetoric to new levels. He pledged to end the use of PLAs on federal construction projects on “day one.” He made that promise in an appearance before the ABC, and they promptly endorsed him. Romney is the hand-picked candidate of the ABC. 

We saw what happened after Republicans gained control of Congress and state houses around the country in 2010. Bans on PLAs were passed, race-to-the-bottom right to work (for less) laws were enacted, and workers’ collective bargaining rights were repealed. We either fight back hard and intelligently or endure more of the same.

Here in the California legislature, Republicans lash out at unions and workers at every opportunity, with one Assembly member even calling unions “enemies of the Constitution” on the Assembly floor.  Increasing our pro-worker majorities in the Senate and Assembly would be a great step toward overcoming that type of anti-worker fanaticism.

As you can see, this is election will be huge for workers, and because a record number of Californians will mail their ballots weeks before the November election, the fight simply can’t wait.

The time to reach out and communicate the importance of this fight to our members, colleagues, friends and families is right now.  Are you with us?

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