Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Call To All Californians: Educate Your Neighbors and Vote on November 8

A week from today Californians will be going to the polls to vote in an election called by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. As y'all no doubt know, this election is unnecessary, called only to further the special interest agenda of Schwarzenegger and his big corporation cronies. That the Californian taxpayer is footing the bill for an expensive and irresponsible election that, should the governor's propositions pass, will seriously hurt the average taxpayer verges on criminal, in this contributor's opinion.

Regardless of the election's unnecessary existence, it is still important for all registered Californian voters to get out and vote next Tuesday. With polls indicating that public support for Schwarzenegger's initiatives is lagging, the only way the governor's agenda can win is if the public stays home:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered next week's special election to take his agenda to "the people," but his campaign strategy relies on relatively few people showing up next Tuesday and large segments of voters staying home.

The governor's plan — "micro-targeting" voters, advertising in selected markets to reach them and conducting daily polls to augur the political mood — is guided by a single premise: If every Democrat and every Republican in California votes next week, Schwarzenegger's measures are likely to lose.
Boycotting the election - which is the intent of some Democratic voters to show displeasure for Schwarzenegger's current attempt at a power grab - will only backfire, ushering in what promises to be an era of corporate-controlled California.

Equally important as voting next Tuesday is reaching our friends, families and neighbors and letting them know the importance of voting "NO" on the first six initiatives of the ballot and "YES" on the last two initiatives. The best way to do so? By phone banking and precinct walking. Many Democratic groups and clubs throughout California have partnered with Alliance for a Better California (ABC) in a concentrated effort to educate voters and Get the Vote Out - check the ABC web site to find a local office in your area.

Following are the California Democratic Party's positions on the ballot initiatives:
VOTE NO on Proposition 73
Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Waiting Period and Parental Notification.
Proposition 73 just the latest attempt by right-wing conservatives to take away a woman's right to choose. Instead of creating another law that would increase the health risk of teenagers, we should focus our energy on preventing teen pregnancy. Prop. 73 unwisely tries to legislate family communication and unrealistically expects teenagers to navigate through a cumbersome and confusing judicial process. Vote No on Proposition 73 and let our daughters have the freedom, privacy, and choice to make their own decision.

VOTE NO on Proposition 74
Public School Teachers. Waiting Period for Permanent Status.
Proposition 74 does NOTHING to help improve public education. Currently, we have a system in place that allows a school to dismiss a teacher they find to be deficient during their first two years of service without a hearing. In fact, every local school has a system in place to deal with struggling teachers. In a time when we should be encouraging young adults to choose a career in teaching, Prop. 74 will hurt those recruitment efforts by not affording due process to those in the teaching profession who do so much for California's children.

VOTE NO on Proposition 75
Public Employee Union Dues.
Proposition 75 would silence the voice of working men and women. Prop. 75 would let Big Business spend freely, while public sector unions would be silenced and in turn shut out from participating in the political process. Vote No on Proposition 75 and protect the voice of advocates who want decent funding for schools, better quality health care and higher standards for public safety.

VOTE NO on Proposition 76
School Funding. State Spending.
Proposition 76 is an Arnold Schwarzenegger power grab that gives him the power to bypass the legislature and make cuts to the budget without any oversight or public approval. Prop. 76 does not protect education funding and it would reduce long-term Prop. 98 school spending by $4 billion per year. Under Prop. 76, local governments could lose hundreds of millions of dollars for police, firefighters, health care and social service programs. Vote No on Proposition 76 and protect those vital services that make our communities a better place to live.

VOTE NO on Proposition 77
Proposition 77 is a flawed redistricting initiative that requires no public input, has no accountability provision, is unfair to those most underrepresented, and quite frankly doesn't make any sense. Prop. 77 will put the process of redistricting into the hands of retired judges who would not be required to take public input and who are not accountable to the voters. Furthermore, Prop. 77 is flawed because it would require these judges to use census data that is six to eight years old, which would hurt those most underrepresented.

VOTE NO on Proposition 78
Prescription Drugs. Discounts.
Proposition 78 is sponsored by all the major pharmaceutical companies - need we say more? Prop. 78 is nothing more than a smokescreen to make it seem as if the pharmaceutical companies suddenly want to give drug discounts. Prop. 78 is a toothless initiative because it doesn't mandate pharmaceutical companies to comply with any state negotiated discounts and there is no accountability provision to ensure meaningful discounts. Prop. 78 limits who is allowed to participate and doesn't provide discounts to those who need it most: the uninsured.

VOTE YES on Proposition 79
Cheaper Prescription Drugs For Californians Act. State-Negotiated Rebates.
Unlike Prop. 78, Proposition 79 will provide real prescription drug discounts to those who need it most. Prop. 79 will establish a pharmacy assistance program to help businesses, small employer purchasing pools and labor organization health and welfare funds, among others, receive the same pharmacy discounts and rebates from drug makers. Pharmaceutical companies would be held accountable by a state advisory board that would review access to, and the pricing of, prescription drugs under the program. Real problems need real solutions, vote Yes on Prop. 79.

VOTE YES on Proposition 80
Affordable Electricity & Preventing Blackouts Act.
Proposition 80 will establish an energy policy for California that guarantees that the lights stay on, protects ratepayers from the market manipulation of private energy companies, "greens" our energy portfolio by increasing environmentally clean and sustainable renewable energy sources, assures that utility industry personnel are well trained, and repeals the failed electricity deregulation scheme that exposed Californians to blackouts and cost ratepayers billions of dollars.


Jarrod J. Williamson, Ph.D. said...

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Propositon 75 claims to be the paycheck protection act, and purports to grant union members and non-member agency fee payers the right to finally opt out of having their union dues used for poltical purposes against their will.

This is patently untrue.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld, repeatedly, that (a) the teacher's union (and all other unions) cannot use the dues of union members and agency fee payers for political purposes without their consent, (b) they can withdraw our consent at any time and thereby opt out of unions using their dues for poltical purposes, and (c) and if members opt out, the unions must provide a public accounting to prove they did not use the dues for political purposes.

If you don't believe me, ask the U.S. Supreme Court. Here are their decisons on the matter:

1. The U.S. Supreme Court, in International Association of Machinists v. Street, [367 U.S. 740 (1961)] found that such expenditures fall outside of the scope of reasons which justified union shop agreements.

2. In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court in Railway Clerks v. Allen reaffirmed that, under Section 2, Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act, labor unions cannot, over an employee's objection, use exacted funds to support political activities which such employees oppose [373 U.S. 113, 118-19 (1963)].

3. In 1977, the Supreme Court, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, extended Street and Allen to encompass dissenting non-union public employees [431 U.S. 209(1977)] basing its decision, however, on constitutional grounds that were not at issue in the prior cases. While a labor organization can constitutionally expend funds for the expression of political and ideological views which are not germane to its collective-bargaining activities, it can only finance such expenditures from the dues of non dissenting employees [Id., 235-36]. Dissenting, non-union employees have a constitutional First Amendment right to prevent a labor union from using a proportionate share of their service fees for certain political and ideological activities unrelated to the union's collective-bargaining activities.

4. In Ellis v. Brotherhood of Railway Clerks, the Court was asked to determine the validity of a rebate scheme, in which a labor union collected dues from employees and used them for certain political and ideological activities, later paying a rebate to employees who dissented from the political and ideological use of such dues [466 U.S. 435 (1984)]. The Court noted that under the rebate scheme the union obtains an involuntary loan for those political and ideological activities to which the dissenting employees object [Id., 443]. Since there were readily available acceptable alternatives to such union borrowing, such as advance reduction of dues and/or interest bearing accounts, the Court found that a union cannot be allowed to use the dissenting employees' funds even temporarily.

5. Two years later, in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson [475 U.S. 292 (1986)] the Supreme Court held that the constitutional requirements for the union's collection of agency fees from non-members would include: (1) an adequate explanation for the basis of the fee; (2) a reasonably prompt opportunity to challenge the amount of the fee before an impartial arbitrator; and (3) the establishment of an escrow fund for the amounts reasonably in dispute while any challenges are pending.

In addition, the Congress has current proposals under consideration would mostly codify the Supreme Court's decisions in Street, Abood, Ellis, Chicago Teachers Union, Beck, and Lehnert. These decisions have interpreted the NLRA and the RLA as restricting the use of compulsory union dues by labor organizations, providing for the disclosure of union expenditures, and notifying employees of their right not to join a union as a condition of employment (the payment of agency dues or fees would be required). However, the various proposals tend to go beyond the Court's interpretations of the statutes. One major difference, which appears in several bills, is the provision that prohibits labor organizations from collecting any dues or fees not related to collective bargaining, contract adminstration, or grievance adjustment unless the employee has agreed, in writing, to pay such dues or fees.

[Sources and text above copied and adopted from The Use Of Union Dues For Political Purposes: A Legal Analysis, By John Contrubis and Margaret Mikyung Lee, American Law Division, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; Number 97-618. http://countingcalifornia.cdlib.org/crs/ascii/97-618]

In short, repeated U.S. Supreme Court decisions have decisively demonstrated that CA Public Employee Union members: (a) can require their union dues not be used for political purposes, (b) can opt out anytime they wish if they do initially allow the union to use their dues for political purposes, and (c) must be clearly informed by the union of both (a) and (b) above.

So then what's the real purpose of Prop. 75? It sure isn't to provide union members with the right to keep unions from using our dues for purposes we disagree with, they've already had that right for decades.

Jarrod J. Williamson, Ph.D. said...

California Proposition 74, the teacher tenure initiative proposes to change the California education code (i.e., CA law) to make it easier to fire K-12 public school teachers.

It is being touted in California as a reform in that it claims teachers need to work for a full five years (as opposed to 2 years) before K-12 public school teacher supposedly get "tenure" and thereby have a "job for life" wherein K-12 public school teachers cannot be fired, even if they are unprofessional and poor teachers.

I am a public school teacher in So. Cal. and want to point out we do not get tenure. This is not just a play on words, but we actually do not get tenure.

The Governor claims that Prop. 74 is needed because (a) the school are under-performing in significant part because of bad teachers, and (b) bad teachers cannot be fired because they have "tenure."

There is no such thing as tenure for K-12 public school teachers. For the first two years of our employment, we are on temporary, probationary status where (a) we can be fired mid-year without cause, and (b) our contracts expire at the end of the year unless the school district chooses to re-hire us.

However, if we pass our evalutations for those two probationary years and we are re-hired, we then get permanent teacher status, which only means our contracts do not expire every year and if we are to be fired, we have the right to a hearing to challenge the dismissal charges against us in front of impartial judges.

Once we get permanent status, public school teachers can be (and are) fired for the following reasons according to the California Education Code (i.e., CA law) section 44932:


(1) Immoral or unprofessional conduct.

(2) Commission, aiding, or advocating the commission of acts of criminal syndicalism, as prohibited by Chapter 188 of the Statutes of 1919, or in any amendment thereof.

(3) Dishonesty.

(4) Unsatisfactory performance.

(5) Evident unfitness for service.

(6) Physical or mental condition unfitting him or her to instruct or associate with children.

(7) Persistent violation of or refusal to obey the school, laws of the state, or reasonable regulations prescribed for the government of the public schools by the State Board of Education or by the governing board of the school district employing him or her.

(8) Conviction of a felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude.

(9) Violation of Section 51530 or conduct specified in Section 1028 of the Government Code, added by Chapter 1418 of the Statutes of 1947.

(10) Knowing membership by the employee in the Communist Party.

(11) Alcoholism or other drug abuse which makes the employee unfit to instruct or associate with children.

In addition, the only permanency we have to our positons is that, if we are to be fired, we are entitled to 90 days notice (cf. Ca Ed. Code section 44939) in which we are allowed to a hearing to determine whether such charges are actually true.

That's it. That's the sum total of teacher "tenure."

The Governor in proposition 74 wants to extend our propationary status from 2 years to 5 years, longer than any other civil servant, and then wants to remove our right to have a hearing before we are fired.


Jarrod J. Williamson, Ph.D.
We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.