Unions tout ‘Prop 32 effect,’ take credit for legislative wins


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Organized labor is taking credit for more than just defeating a November ballot measure that sought to curb union clout in state politics.

After trouncing Proposition 32, unions were crowing about Democratic gains in Congress and the party being positioned to take supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature. In a Wednesday morning memo, the California Labor Federation said its get-out-the-vote effort made the difference in tight races up and down the ballot, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30.


‘This election proved to be a game-changer,’ wrote Steve Smith, a spokesman for the labor federation. ‘And it couldn’t have been possible without a galvanized, motivated labor program on the ground.’

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Smith said unions began to build their Proposition 32 opposition operation in the spring, ultimately recruiting 40,000 volunteers and making more than 3.7 million voter contacts on the phone or at the door. Unions raised at least $64 million to fight the measure, which would have eliminated their ability to deduct political contributions from their members’ paychecks.

Republican donors, anti-tax activists and business executives poured tens of millions of dollars into several committees to promote Proposition 32. GOP rainmaker Charles Munger Jr. spent nearly $36 million to boost the measure and attack Brown’s tax initiative.

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Smith said the ballot measure’s defeat offers a clear lesson for conservatives.

‘If measures that attack workers are on the ballot, they will be defeated,’ he wrote. ‘And not only will they be defeated, they will drive workers to the polls in record numbers, which has a direct impact on races and measures up and down every ballot across California’



Unions raise nearly $10 million to fight Prop. 32

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Bid to curb union spending gets big Democratic backer

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento