SAG-AFTRA Enlists 'Zombies' in Fight to Slay Ballot Proposition
Union leaders hope to drive a stake in the heart of Prop 32, which they say would uniquely prohibit unions from using employee wage deductions for certain political speech.
The zombies were out on the Boulevard on Wednesday, and not just on Santa Monica Boulevard, their usual Halloween haunt. These zombies – a group of SAG-AFTRA members, staff and supporters made up to look well past their shelf lives – were out at mid-day on Wilshire Boulevard, protesting Prop 32.
That’s the California ballot proposition that would restrict the ability of unions and corporations to use deductions from employee wages in order to influence voters for or against any measure. Opponents call this apparent even-handedness deceptive, since companies don’t fund their political advocacy by payroll deductions, whereas unions do.
“This proposition is such a lie,” SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a well-funded campaign to silence working people.”
Reardon, L.A. County Federation of Labor leader Maria Elena Durazos and Teamsters Local 399 business agent Ed Duffy offered remarks to the several dozen assembled. Durazos called Prop 32 “a disastrous threat ... to all workers in California, not just union members.”
The zombies lurched about, carrying protest signs and attracting the attention and support of passing cars. The undead live on – as they are wont to do – in a YouTube video.
In an interview afterward with The Hollywood Reporter, SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White called the proposition “undemocratic,” and drew a connection to the 2010 Supreme Court decision that opened the way to wealthy super PACs and potentially unlimited political expenditures by businesses.
“Citizens United was tailor-made to allow wealthy people, corporations and their special interests to influence policy across the country,” he said. “Prop 32 is a naked attempt to prevent non-wealthy working people from having a similar voice.”
Speaking to THR, Durazos elaborated, listing the causes – such as the minimum wage, heat regulations for farm workers and nurse-patient rations – that California unions have advocated on behalf of union members and non-members alike.
And why zombies? Said a union press release, “Zombies have no voice – and neither will California workers if Prop 32 passes.”
Bookmark The Hollywood Reporter’s Labor Page for the most in-depth coverage of entertainment unions and guilds.
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