California Proposition #32

Each week I will go over 1 of the 11 propositions that will be on the California Ballot in November. Today’s post goes over Proposition 32. Are you ready? Let’s go!

California Proposition 32 – Political Contributions!

TDL Description

Background (current status)

The Prop 32 Summary Analysis (click link to download) goes into some detail about what exactly constitutes a political contribution and how unions are allowed to use money to support political campaigns. Here are some brief definitions for those of you who are unfamiliar.

  • Political Spending: when any individual, group or business spends money to oppose or support a candidate or measure, either directly or through contributions of services or producing ads or commercials.
  • Political Contributions can be given directly to the candidate, whether asked or not, or to a committee that works to support that candidate or measure. This must be disclosed to election officials.
  • Independent Expenditures: is money spent to support a candidate/measure (or to slander the opposition) without their cooperation, or the cooperation of the committee/group that supports the candidate or measure.  For example: If I make a commercial about President Obama, without his (or Mitt Romney’s if I decide to support Romney) knowledge.  However, this must be disclosed to election officials.
  • Other Political Spending: this is when groups/employers spend money to communicate to their members information about a candidate or measure, but isn’t really broadcast to the general public. Example:  I could send out a letter to the TDL fan club ( 1 member and counting, still recruiting) telling them to support a candidate if I want to. This does not have to be reported to election officials.
  • Union contributions! Unions are groups that represent workers in collective bargaining with employers.  People who work for big companies or big government offices have unions. Hospitals.. or Chevron..or IRS ..or something like that. (I don’t know specifically if all of these examples have unions..)

Union services are paid for via payroll deductions. Currently, Unions can use payroll deductions to pay for contributions to political campaigns, or to make communications in support of a political candidate or measure. Payroll deductions can also be used to endorse political candidates/measures internally. For example the Nurses Union could send out commercials supporting my candidacy for President to their members or to the general public if they wanted. (I don’t plan on running..but I thank them for considering me. :))

*Note.. the analysis says that Unions are the only ones that pay for its political campaign contributions via payroll deductions. I wonder if that is true.

What Proposition 32 wants to do now..

Proposition 32 limits state and local campaign spending by Corporations, Private and Public sector Unions, and Government Contractors. This does not apply to federal offices like voting for President or Congress. (Obama and Barbara Lee are safe from this).

(..WAIT! I thought this was just about Unions, corporations too?.. interesting..)

Bans use of payroll deductions for political campaigns.. Unions, Corporations or Government contractors will not be able to take your money and spend it on political campaigns. No commercials, no communications to members, no money spent directly to candidates. EXCEPT ..for federal campaigns.

Prohibits Corporations AND Unions from making political contributions to campaigns.. ..that’s right..Corporations AND Unions. Remember from above, this is Political Contributions..meaning they can’t make donations directly to campaigns or to committees that support the campaign. They can pay for commercials and ads on their own. They can make Independent Expenditures. (review above if you forget)

Limits authority of Government Contractors to contribute to political campaigns..  this limits Government Contractors from playing a role in campaigns supporting candidates for elected offices that have a role in them getting contracts. Let’s say the Mayor of Oakland wanted to hire a company to oversee the Coliseum City project. That company could not contribute to her re-election campaign. (I just made this up..don’t start jumping to conclusions..).

Fiscal effects.. This could cost the state a 1 million dollars annually just to monitor this new law…but who cares about that.


By now you have probably heard the commercials. You union rep has probably sent you letters. You might have even seen something on Facebook and Twitter.. This is a very controversial proposition!  Here is a summary of opinions I found online.


Larry Sand, a retired teacher from Los Angeles writes to the LA Times..

Why should a worker have some of his forced union dues spent on candidates or causes that he doesn’t agree with? As Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

What Really Scares California’s Big Unions| LA TIMES|,0,2890404.story

He goes on to say..

  • This would prevent teachers unions from demanding candidates who they support to direct the state to contribute to their pensions, instead on improving education.
  • Prevent cities from going into bankruptcy trying to pay for pensions instead of city services
  • “It attacks corruption by cutting the money tie between special interests and politicians, prohibiting both corporations and unions from giving contributions to candidates for state and local office.”
  • It holds union leaders and bosses accountable for how they spend union member’s money.


So far SF Chronicle (SF GATE) ..has only published an argument against Prop 32 on their website. I wonder why that is…

John Logan, a professor of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State writes..

“The initiative masquerades as an attempt at even-handed campaign-finance reform that would reduce the influence of powerful special interests in Sacramento. Few would argue that this is a laudable goal, but Prop. 32’s special exemptions would increase the influence of business interests and wealthy individuals, while silencing teachers, nurses, firefighters and law-enforcement officers.”

Read more:
His other arguments include..
  • Unfairly targets unions because unions make their political contributions via the only revenue source they have, payroll deductions. Corporations use profits.
  • Does not stop corporations from spending money via Super Pacs
  • Would drastically reduce Unions ability to fight for its members on issues concerning homeowners rights,  clean air, banking regulations etc.
  • It only enhances the ability of billionaires and big businesses to dominate our elections!


Are you pro or con? Does this proposition affect you directly? Share!!


5 responses to “California Proposition #32”

    • Thanks Miguel!

      One thing to make note of ..If this proposition passes, unions will not be able to have funding to contribute in the political process.

      Unions aren’t allowed to do fundraising.

  1. On it’s face Prop 32 seems like a good idea, but when you think about it, shutting unions out of the political discourse is a bad idea. Whether you agree with the position the union is fighting for or not, unions exist mainly to protect the rights of the workers they represent. To prevent them from engaging in the political process prevents them from serving their main purpose.

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