Local educators, along with public safety and good government advocates, gathered Thursday morning at the Santa Barbara Courthouse to unite in opposition against Proposition 32.
Proposition 32, or the Paycheck Protection Initiative, would ban corporations, unions, and the government from making automatic deductions from employees’ wages for political use. In addition, Prop. 32 would stop government contractors from contributing to the politicians who control the contracts awarded to them, and it would ban corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates.
While the proposition appears to provide much-needed campaign finance reforms, protesters said that voters only need to look a bit deeper to see that the proposition is not what it seems.
Linda Phillips, a representative from the League of Women Voters, said that while the preamble of the proposition expresses what sound like excellent ideas, those ideas are not found in the actual text of the proposition.
“The League of Women Voters is one of the groups that is most vehement about campaign finance reform. If you read the preamble, this sounds like the best reform you could ever have, but when you read the details, you see that the preamble has no relationship to the actual components of the proposition,” explained Phillips, adding that Prop. 32 has huge loopholes for Super PACs, businesses, and wealthy individuals. “It tries to silence the voice of one side while expanding the other. It’s not fair or balanced, and does nothing to stop huge amounts of money from going into campaigns.”
The president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, Layne Wheeler, said that the initiative places restrictions on corporations that would have zero effect.
“This is just a case of powerful interests trying to silence the voice of teachers and other middle-class workers while carving out exemptions for themselves. It won’t fix the California political system; it will make it worse. It makes supposed restrictions on corporations that will have no impact on them because their payroll deductions don’t go toward politics,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler said that many middle-class Californians have been able to live a stable life with a secure job because of the benefits of unions and that unions are one of the only truly organized voices for the middle class.
“Unions have been an access point to the middle class for many people. Being able to have reasonable working hours, good work environments, and paid vacations, those things all come from being able to have collective bargaining and a voice. This would stop us from having a voice, even in local decisions, like selecting the school board members,” Wheeler said, “This is a perversion of campaign finance reform, cloaked under heavy verbiage.”
The president of the Santa Barbara City Firefighters Local 525, Tony Pighetti, echoed Wheeler’s sentiments, adding, “In order to continue to provide effective services to the community, we need to be able to protect the interests of the men and women of the Santa Barbara City Firefighters. We need to have a voice, and Proposition 32 takes away our voice.”