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Entertainment Unions Join Downtown LA Rally Against Prop. 32 (Exclusive)

No on Prop 32 Rally SAg AFTRA Members - P 2012

Opponents say the “Stop Special Interest Money” proposition would muzzle labor while giving corporations free rein to spend in the political process. Advocates disagree.

Blasting Proposition 32 as a deceptive attempt “to silence labor’s voice,” a contingent of delegates from SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and American Federation of Musicians Local 47 joined one thousand other labor activists rallying against the November ballot measure at the LA Convention Center Thursday morning.

The three-hour rally includes a skit by SAG-AFTRA board members Jason George and Jenny O’Hara and IATSE Local 706 (make-up and hair stylists) president Sue Cabral-Ebert.

George said he wasn’t against removing money from the political process, but called Prop. 32 a “deceiving proposition” that would affect only unions, while leaving corporations and billionaires free to spend as they wish.

“Don’t lie to me,” he added.

SAG-AFTRA, IATSE (or certain locals – it was not entirely clear at press time) and AFM Local 47 all have come out against the proposition. The measure’s advocates say that, with certain exceptions, it would prevent corporations and unions from spending employee or union money collected from wages for political purposes, while opponents – including labor – argue that only labor unions, not companies, collect funds in this fashion.

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In the words of the proposition, “no corporation, labor union... shall deduct from an employee's wages, earnings, or compensation any amount of money to be used for political purposes,” which is defined to include “a payment made to influence or attempt to influence the action of voters for or against the qualification or passage of any measure.”

IATSE Local 33 (stagehands) member Peter Marley and SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles board member Ron Morgan said that the measure would impede entertainment unions’ ability to lobby for tax incentives in the California legislature, although the measure’s reference to “voters” makes it unclear if this is correct.

Federal law regarding “financial core” or “fi-core” status already gives union members the right to withdraw from a union in order to opt out from having their dues money used in part for political purposes.

Local 47 communications director Linda Rapka said that she feared that the proposition was a “slippery slope” towards making California a right to work state, a designation that applies to numerous states, primarily in the south and Rockies and that makes union membership optional even where employees have voted to establish a union.

The rally was organized by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Among the speakers was AFL-CIO international president Richard Trumka.

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Email: jhandel@att.net

Twitter: @jhandel