News

Though the election is over, the “Alliance” is alive and well

The coalition of labor organizations that worked to defeat Gov.
Schwarzenegger’s special election agenda has sent a threatening letter to
the California Chamber of Commerce saying that if the business organization
supports another so-called “paycheck protection” initiative, labor groups
will retaliate by putting “shareholder protection” on the ballot.

“We are going into 2006 clearly together,” Lou Paulson, president of the
California Professional Firefighters, and signatory of the letter, said of
the union-backed Alliance for a Better California. “We haven’t stopped
working on global issues collectively.”

The letter, which was addressed to Eugene Voiland, chairman of the executive
committee of the Chamber, was sent to the entire committee and the board of
directors. Though there has been no official response, some Chamber
officials are meeting privately this week and next with Alliance members,
according to Poulson, who is scheduled to sit down with Chamber president
Allan Zaremberg next week.

Voiland told Capitol Weekly that the letter was “a private communication”
and that it would be “inappropriate to comment before I communicate with
authors of letter.” He declined to say whether or not he had plans to meet
with members of the Alliance in the coming weeks.

In the letter, the union leaders, which included Paulson, Barbara Kerr,
president of the California Teacher’s Association, Mike Jimenez, president
of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, and Sal Rosselli,
president of the SEIU California State Council among others, took umbrage
with the Chamber’s backing of the special election, and Proposition 75 in
particular.

“Had the Chamber not participated, the voters of California would have been
spared this ordeal,” they wrote, adding that the union coalition was “forced
to spend millions of dollars protecting California schools, public safety
and the working people of this state.”

The labor leaders denounced Proposition 75, which would have required union
members to sign off on using their dues for political purposes as “a clear
declaration of war against labor.” The measure was defeated by voters 53.4
to 46.6 percent this November.

Responding to reports that Lew Uhler, who sponsored Prop 75, is considering
bringing back a similar initiative, as soon as next year, the Alliance
members wrote that such an action, “threatens to ignite an ever-escalating
war between us and poison business-labor relations in this state for years
to come.”

If such a measure should resurface, they said, “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.”

Paulson, head of the state’s firefighter’s union, said he is tired of the
“zealots saying we are going to keep bringing this issue up,” after voters
turned back a similar initiative, Proposition 226, in 1998 and again this
year.

“In [Props.] 226 and 75, we were defending ourselves


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