Workers Vanguard No. 1011

26 October 2012


California Prop 32 and Labor’s Ties to the Democrats

No on Prop 32!

We print below, excerpted and edited for publication, the remarks of a Spartacist League supporter in the discussion at the L.A. forum on the elections. Proposition 32, cynically dubbed the “Paycheck Protection” act, is an anti-union initiative on the ballot in the November California state election.

The union bureaucracy has been pushing really hard for a no vote on Prop. 32. This proposition would make it illegal for any corporation or labor union to “make a contribution to any candidate” or to give money for a candidate’s use. As well, it would make illegal any payroll deductions for political purposes.

We say: vote no on Prop. 32! Government hands off the unions! We oppose this proposition because we oppose any and all intervention by the capitalist state—which is a machinery of repression defending the tiny class of exploiters against the working class—into the labor movement. The capitalist state has no business telling the unions what they should or should not do with their money. State intervention only works to subordinate the unions to the bosses’ government and to weaken their ability to wage class struggle.

For the misleaders of the unions, Prop. 32 is the devil because it undermines their entire strategy: support to the Democrats as illusory “friends of labor.” As one union paper stated, “If we are unable to support our political friends and fight our political foes, then the hard-core anti-union, anti-working people conspiracy will work to destroy the prevailing (union) wage, our benefits, and our pensions.” Of course, whom they see as their political “friends” are the Democrats and “foes” the Republicans.

The union bureaucracy’s strategy is actually a direct route to the graveyard. In fact, the Democrats today are in the forefront of the attacks against the unions. In California, it’s been [Governor] Jerry Brown and [L.A. mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa who have led the charge against teachers as well as public workers generally. Villaraigosa recently celebrated a success for his agenda: the city council increased the retirement age and decreased pensions for new city workers.

What is necessary is a fight for the complete independence of the unions from the state agencies and political parties of the class enemy. The question of where a union sends its money is a fight that must be waged within the union, as part of a political struggle to oust the labor misleaders and replace them with a revolutionary leadership committed to the fight to build an independent party of the working class. Such a party would not be an electoral vehicle but an instrument for leading a socialist revolution.