21 Apr 1998 Labor Unions Run Deceptive Ad Campaign Against Pro-Worker Ballot Initiative
Opponents of a California ballot initiative that would prevent worker wages from being spent on politics without their permission have begun a deceptive television ad campaign lacking in both truthfulness and substance.
Proposition 226, appearing on California’s June primary ballot, would require employers and labor unions to obtain annual written permission from a worker before using payroll deductions or mandatory dues for state and local political activity. A poll conducted by Los Angeles Times in early April found 66% of likely voters supported Proposition 226.
In commercials that debuted this week, Proposition 226 opponents portray supporters of the initiative as out-of-state business interests. These negative attack ads, however, are themselves paid for by money partially collected from out-of-state union dues – exactly the sort of practice that would be outlawed by Proposition 226.
“Organized labor is the true outsider in this campaign,” said David W. Almasi, the editor of the Political Money Monitor newsletter. ” AFL-CIO leaders are raiding worker paychecks nationwide to collect over $10 million that they plan to dump into the campaign against Proposition 226. Los Angeles Times polling showed 58% of union member support Proposition 226. If labor unions were created to represent their membership, then what is going on here?”
According to Proposition 226 co-author Mark Bucher, over 98% of the over 10,000 donors to the “Yes on 226!” campaign are California residents. Patrick Rooney, the Indiana insurance executive portrayed by Proposition 226 opponents as a major benefactor of the campaign, has donated less than $50,000, and maintains a personal residence in California.
“If Patrick Rooney is vilified for donating less than $50,000, what must we do about AFL-CIO President John Sweeney?” asked Almasi. “He’s bringing millions of dollars of other people’s money into the state.”