By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, Sep. 3, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Anyone who was paying attention to the California Legislature during the hectic final days of the 2012 session last week could see the political clout of the state’s labor unions.
Countless union-backed bills whipped through the Capitol and onto Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Although union lobbyists lost a few battles, they could count many more victories.
With the Legislature’s Democratic majority utterly beholden to unions for political sustenance and with a governor, Jerry Brown, whose 2010 campaign relied on union financing, unions and their 2.4 million members are at the apogee of political influence.
Nevertheless, Labor Day 2012 also finds those unions facing a ballot measure that could erode their political influence as they face declining popularity and long-term membership shrinkage.
The ballot measure, Proposition 32, is the latest of several attempts by conservative groups to crack the unions’ hegemony by prohibiting them from obtaining political funds from members via paycheck deductions without specific permission.
This version appears to be faring better than its predecessors because its sponsors adopted a sleight-of-hand political tactic that the unions themselves have employed in the past – wrapping something attractive to voters around something controversial.
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