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Letter from Alliance for a Better California to the Chamber of Commerce

Below is the text of a letter sent by labor activists to the chairman of the California Chamber of Commerce.

December 1, 2005
Mr. Eugene J. Voiland, Chair
California Chamber of Commerce
1215 K Street,
Suite 1400
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Mr. Voiland:

We were recently forced to spend millions of dollars protecting California
schools, public safety and the working people of this state against a series
of initiatives conceived, written and promoted in large part with the active
endorsement and support of the California Chamber of Commerce. Your
president, in fact, was one of the most visible leaders in this effort.

Had the Chamber not participated, the voters of California would have been
spared this ordeal, which squandered valuable time and resources that should
have been used developing real solutions to the challenges of education,
infrastructure, public safety, housing, the economy and the state’s budget
process.

Worse, your participation has fueled suspicion and mistrust between our two
sides at a time when we should be working together to meet the challenges
facing our state. Instead of helping to develop consensus, the Chamber’s
actions have driven us farther apart.

Proposition 75, in particular, was a clear declaration of war against labor
and our ability to participate in the political process — an attempt by some
in your community to punish workers and silence the voices of the millions
of working men and women we represent. It did not go unnoticed that the
Chamber publicly endorsed and actively campaigned for this ill-advised
initiative.

Newspapers are now reporting that a similar anti-worker initiative is being
planned for the November ballot. This threatens to ignite an
ever-escalating war between us and poison business-labor relations in this
state for years to come. Clearly, fair play demands that any restrictions
imposed on the political rights of workers should also be applied equally to
your shareholders — a step we are fully prepared to take to ensure a level
playing field.

We ask that you use your leadership as Chairman of the Board to reexamine
the Chamber’s current direction. Will the Chamber continue down this
hostile path, or will you alter course to rebuild trust and open a dialogue
that leads to genuine cooperation between our two sides?

Because decision-points are fast approaching, we look forward to your
earliest reply.

Barbara Kerr, President
California Teachers Association

Mike Jimenez, President
California Correctional Peace Officers Association

Lou Poulson, President
California Professional Firefighters

Sal Rosselli, President
SEIU California State Council

Ron Cottingham, President
Peace Officers Research Association of California

Rob Feckner, President
California School Employees Association

CC: California Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and Board of Directors


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