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Ballot measures that will affect the future and the voice of workers in Michigan and California are going to be hard-fought. In California, where Proposition 32 would defund union political spending under the guise of getting money out of politics, while leaving tons of corporate money in politics, a new poll finds 49 percent of voters opposed and 42 percent in favor. In Michigan, Proposal 2, an amendment that would guarantee collective bargaining rights holds a 49 percent to 39 percent lead and a measure to repeal the state's anti-union Emergency Manager law is 46 percent for repeal to 35 percent to keep the law in place. These results are honestly a little weird—support for the collective bargaining amendment has decreased by five points while repealing the Emergency Manager law has gained 13 points? It's not clear what to make of that, but confusion around the fact that on one question the pro-labor vote is yes and on the other question the pro-labor vote is no may be a factor.

In any case, the polling makes clear that neither side can take these measures for granted. And they fucking matter. Putting collective bargaining rights into the Michigan state constitution would be a huge step forward for workers, especially in a state where Republican legislators have had real successes in their war on workers. In contrast, if Prop. 32 passes in California, it not only weakens the political power of workers through their unions, but slashes an important source of contributions for Democrats while leaving Republican corporate funding largely intact.

Make sure your friends in California know the stakes on these important ballot measures.

A fair day's wage

  • I think the opening sentence of this story says it all:
    A Texas company that profited for decades by supplying mentally disabled workers to an Iowa turkey plant at wages of 41 cents per hour must pay the men $1.37 million in back wages, a federal judge ruled late Tuesday.
  • Flexibility means very different things at the top and the bottom.
  • Something's going around at American Airlines. No doubt coincidentally after a judge allowed the airline to throw out its contract with pilots as it goes through bankruptcy, pilots have been calling in sick in large numbers. Along with increased reports of problems from maintenance crews, that's forcing the cancellation of 300 flights this week. The union is advising pilots that if they do call in sick, they should be sure to have a doctor's note.
  • How many beloved American brands have private equity firms completely trashed? Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union members at Hostess have rejected the company's "last, best, and final" contract offer with a 92 percent vote. Union President Frank Hurt says:
    “Our members have seen this company attempt to give millions of dollars in unseemly and unjustified bonuses to managers and supervisors in the midst of this bankruptcy.  They have seen this company go through numerous CEO’s in the last seven years with not one of them having had any significant experience in the wholesale bread and cake baking business.

    “Our members reviewed the analysis of this company’s business plan provided by a highly-respected financial analyst retained by the company which showed that the plan has little or no chance of succeeding in saving the business but would provide the investors with a windfall.

    “Our members know that this is a company that is controlled by Wall Street private equity and hedge fund firms, whose sole objective is to maximize their own returns, not rebuild a company for the long haul.”

    It's not just Hostess. Mitt Romney's now-infamous secret video was filmed at a fundraiser held by private equity manager Marc Leder, who trashed Friendly's. Read more about him here.
  • Oh, Walmart. You suck so much in so many ways. Gawker's Hamilton Nolan has a farewell letter from a now-former Walmart employee and oh boy:
    If you're ever in our store when the late night bi-weekly cleaning of the meat department cases takes place you'll learn first hand what a rotting corpse probably smells should be done more often but no one wants to do it and the managers don't really give a shit to enforce it...this filthy cesspole catch basin of liquid blood scum is lurking about six inches below that package of hamburger meat you're about to buy, Mr and Mrs. Customer. Bon Appetit!!
  • Warehouse workers in Illinois have joined the workers in California striking against Walmart-contracted warehouses.
  • Outsourcing in the fields is screwing farm workers the same ways it screws so many other workers: wage theft, lack of accountability, labor law abuses.

State and local legislation

  • Once you get past the "Whoa! So many West Wing cast members reuniting for a web video" aspect of this, there's an important political point here. I'm not a big fan of judges being elected, but in many states they are. And it's important to vote for them, because they make some big decisions that affect people's lives. But where they're elected in non-partisan races, how do you know who's who? It takes research and remembering the names very clearly. But it's worth doing, for judges and other non-partisan elected offices. For instance, it was the Michigan Supreme Court that decided whether ballot measures to put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution and to repeal the Emergency Manager law would be allowed on the ballot. In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court will once again decide the fate of Gov. Scott Walker's law taking collective bargaining rights from public employees.
  • Orange County, Florida, judges ruled Monday that a paid sick leave initiative should get a vote. But the judges also gave the county long enough to respond that the deadline for getting the initiative on the ballot could have passed. And lo, the deadline passed and the question isn't on the ballot. Predictably, businesses are insisting their very survival and ability to create jobs hinges on being able to make workers come to work to sneeze all over customers and their food.


  • A dispatch from the 47 percent:
    A lot of the people who are with me in and on the borders of the 47 percent are here for similar reasons. They fall into enough tax deductions and credits at the moment that they end up with no obligations to the federal budget, or they’ve worked and paid taxes all their lives, and now they’re retired and collecting Social Security. My guess is that many people don’t even know that they’re in this camp, especially if they don’t do their own taxes and don’t bother to compare the deductions on their paychecks to their refund checks.
  • You can earn the right to tell the AFL-CIO Super PAC where and how to spend its money.
  • Talking to Ohio swing voters with Working America.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As to the Michigan discrepancy on the two (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    labor issues...... I haven't seen the propositions, but could there be some misunderstanding as to the wording or intent in the one proposition that could be causing this odd polling?

  •  In California, people can get easily confused (6+ / 0-)

    reading the proposition language. I've lived here my whole life and know first hand. I think this (as you pointed out) is the reason the polling numbers are weird. As often as not, a ballot proposition seems to be for a thing, when it's the opposite. If I'm unsure, I look to see what group wrote the proposition. If it's Big Whatever, then I have a clue.

    What are their names and on what street do they live-David Crosby-"If I Could Only Remember My Name"

    by IB JOHN on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 11:13:41 AM PDT

    •  The Koch brothers have been funding... (5+ / 0-)

      ...awful radio ads practically accusing the teachers' union of protecting pedophiles.

      Prop. 32: Group linked to Koch brothers gives $4 million [updated]

      A group with ties to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers has dropped $4 million to pass a ballot measure that would severely limit the political activity of labor unions.

      The new committee has just one donation -- $4 million from the American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to promote “conservative and free-market principles.”

      No on Prop. 32: It isn't what it claims to be
      A $4 million donation to the Yes on 32 campaign last week from a notorious and secretive out-of-state Super PAC linked to the billionaire Koch Brothers is just one example of how lopsided political campaigns in California will be if Proposition 32's backers are successful.

      Proposition 32 is simply unbalanced and unfair to working and middle-class Californians. The measure says it prohibits unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, so it sounds balanced. But more than 99 percent of California corporations don't use payroll deduction for political giving; they would still be allowed to use their corporate profits to influence elections.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 11:37:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Prop 32 is going down (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IB JOHN

      First, California has a long history of ballot measures losing support going into election day.  If a measure is polling 55% in favor it might win.  POlling 42-49 against? (or as the Golden State gold standard, the Field Poll has it,  38%-44%)  that proposition is all but toast.

      Second, confusing measures usually trigger knee jerk no votes, just cuz.

      We cannot argue that Republicans are liars if we take Paul Ryan as our role model on how to relate to facts

      by Mindful Nature on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 12:01:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think we win that one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IB JOHN

      The television ads against 32 are devastating. We're also polling pretty good. We have our moments, but on the whole - The voting populace in "Kaleefornia" isn't completely stupid.

      Arm yourselves! God's stepchildren are running amuck.

      by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 12:17:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That nurse is right (4+ / 0-)

    As a retired Milwaukee County nurse, our contract had about 2 pages about wages and benefits.  The remaining dozens of pages were all about staffing, safety, having needed equipment and ancillary staff (i.e. people to do all the non-nursing things so nurses could be nurses rather than equipment scrubbers, unit cleaners, trash collecters, etc.), and other things that directly impacted patient care and our ability to provide the best care.  

    Most important was a committee comprised of management and labor to discuss problems and identify solutions.  

    Anti-union forces just love to narrow it all down to monetary issues so they can pretend that unionized workers are greedy, but there's a whole lot more to those union contracts.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 11:17:30 AM PDT

  •  I read the Michigan proposals (4+ / 0-)

    I downloaded my sample ballot and then read about them. Then I called the few friends I have up here (this will be my first time voting as a new MI resident) and I explained the proposals and now have 6 votes for collective bargaining and against the emergency manager nonsense.

    Also found out my township votes Dem which is great. There are wacky people here in the Western U.P. but I'm doing my part to change minds. I research the candidates, print the info then hand it out to folks I know and explain it. Whew! Lot of work but fun too!

    Keep your cynicism off my optimism, thanks

    by Its any one guess on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 11:22:26 AM PDT

  •  Famous Republicans on Labor (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Puddytat, AmazingBlaise

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”  -Abraham Lincoln, 1861

    “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”  -Ronald Reagan

    "Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice."  -Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Condemned To Repeat It blog

  •  Prop 35 = War on sex workers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Worth reading and considering before voting on Prop 35 in California. After reading this, I will be voting no.

  •  Do campaigns employ special fast talkers? (0+ / 0-)

    Are there people who make money as the 'fast talker' at the end of proposition ads? Is this is a skill you develop or are born with ?

    Or does someone just amp themselves up with 6 espressos and some no-doze and then go at the script ?

    do they talk like this in real life ?
    Do they talk at normal speed and then the speech is speed up electronically to fit the time required ?

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