Unions were created with the thought of bringing together the masses, so they can have a word in what happens in their state and nation.
What would happen if unions were no longer given the right to use dues to support political campaigns?
History professors Peggy Renner and Roger Bowerman discussed the situation in a faux debate regarding Proposition 32, which would restrict unions in California from using dues to fund political campaigns.
Although both professors discussing are against the measure, Bowerman acted the part of being for Proposition 32, while Renner was opposing.
Director of Governmental and External Relations, Andra Verstraete moderated the debate.
Renner’s argument against the proposition was that although the proposition “on the surface” looks like a good idea, the measure ends up only cutting the unions’ power to fund political campaigns, leaving only the super wealthy able to fund campaigns.
“Proposition 32 is just not fair,” said Renner.
Bowerman’s argument for Proposition 32 was that unions distort politics by swaying politics with union dues gathered by thousands of union members, adding that money in politics has got to go.
Bowerman himself, though acting in favor the proposition’s elimination of union’s ability of funding political campaigns, is a member of the American wFederation of Teachers union.
For unions using dues for campaign funding, Renner said that unions represent the thousands of people that want to have their voices heard and by uniting people can afford to have lobbyists go to the capital and have a say in what they think should happen.
Renner also added that union spending from 2001 to 2011 was a fraction, at $281 million, compared to businesses spending $931 million in the same time frame.
“Does that seem fair to you?” said Renner.
Bowerman said that if citizens want to have a word they should contribute as an individual, using men such as Rockefeller and Carnegie as examples of individualism.
“But didn’t those men say ‘if you can get a man to work for less, go for it’?” said Renner. “And also didn’t they want to destroy unions to make it easier to get that done?”
Bowerman said that unions don’t create jobs at all and that what the business men of the past said only looks like an injustice, since they are the only ones that created jobs.
“Unions need to be put to heel,” said Bowerman. “We need to get back on track to prosperity.”
Renner said that teachers, firefighters and police all help to overall well-being to society.
“Teachers work to prepare students for jobs,” said Renner. “We also help them with the knowledge they need to work well.”
Once the panel opened up for questions, many sought to ask questions or give commentary to Renner and Bowerman.
“Mr. Bowerman, it sounds like you’re scared of the people’s voices,” exclaimed History teacher Lisa Lubow.
Bowerman agreed to the commentary and said that people don’t know what they are doing and the masses should “trust the people on top on what they are doing.”
Renner said that the proposition’s intent is just that: to silence the masses.
“The original 13 states only had white, land-owning men that could vote and after so long, now all citizens can vote,” said Renner, “now proposition 32 is trying to silence the people by blocking unions.”
Bowerman said that the only reason outsourcing began was because of the unions requests.
“If unions really wanted to work in politics, unions need to make a political action group,” said Bowerman. “The best way to help union members is to let them choose themselves if they want to go speak their mind in Sacramento.”
Renner said that, through union support, all professors in Glendale Community College agreed to a 5 percent pay cut, for the sake of keeping classes open.
“Profit making isn’t bad, but we need the wealthy to help us, not just hoard it,” said Renner.
When asked why people should consider voting “No” on Proposition 32, even Bowerman had to break out of character.
“People always hear the bad news, yet most unions give great help to us teachers,” said Bowerman, “Teachers unions have tried to make this a fair system.”
Bowerman later said after the debate he only played as the Proposition 32 supporter, for the sake of the debate.
“I know what their points are, but I honestly don’t agree with anything I said in the beginning,” said Bowerman, “I only did this because we needed a person to play as the proposition supporter.”
Readers can find more information about Proposition 32 by going to lao.ca.gov, clicking on the “November Ballots” link and then clicking on the “Proposition 32” link, for the Legislative Analyst’s Office summary of the proposition.