Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Unions vs. Arnold (redux)

Unions Protest Gov's Fundraising
Labor groups say Schwarzenegger is seeking
special-interest cash for his reelection.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's drive to raise tens of millions of dollars for his reelection has set off a backlash by organized labor, with unions trying to ensure that his hunt for money remains a prime source of political trouble.

In Beverly Hills on Monday, unions held their first major protest of the year against the Republican governor's collection of campaign money. About 200 nurses, bus drivers, school clerks and other union members marched outside a private Schwarzenegger reception and dinner for donors, who paid up to $100,000 for seats near the governor and his guest speaker, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

As Schwarzenegger was ensconced with top supporters inside the Beverly Hilton, sign-waving protesters shouted from the sidewalks outside at rush-hour traffic on Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards.

"Money in, favors out, that's what Arnold's all about!" they yelled.

Just before the dinner, police ejected several dozen nurses from the hotel lobby as they shouted "Shame on Arnold!" and "Stop the corruption!"

The scenes were similar to the dozens of protests that organized labor held last year during its successful battle to kill Schwarzenegger's November ballot initiatives. This year, of course, the target is his reelection.

The unions' core message on Monday — that Schwarzenegger broke his campaign pledge to shun special-interest money — is part of a broader effort by labor and its Democratic allies to cast the governor as a standard politician who fails to keep his word.


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