The event was designed to raise awareness about California Proposition 32, The Stop Special Interest Money Now Act and register voters previously not registered to vote, according to Teamster representatives.
“We have more than 600 union members in there,” said Gaylord Phillips, secretary and treasurer of Teamsters Local 386, as he pointed to the CVS warehouse. “And 313 are not registered. We’ve had more than 100 sign up so far.”
Also present were Patterson City Council candidates Sheree Lustgarten and Tony Camacho, and Jose Hernandez, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congressional District 10, which takes in all of Stanislaus County and southern San Joaquin County. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who is also running for the District-10 seat, was at CVS earlier in the day, touring the inside of the facility as part of an employee appreciation day.
Phillips railed against Proposition 32, saying the voter initiative doesn’t do what it says it will do, which is to limit all special interest money going to politicians. He said he was out to warn his fellow union members.
“It just takes unions out of the picture,” he said.
Specifically the initiative seeks to ban both corporate and labor contributions to candidates and prohibit government contractors for contributing money to government officials that award them contracts. It also would prohibit corporations and labor unions from collecting political funds from employees and union members using payroll deduction and would make all employee political contributions by any other means strictly voluntary.
But critics such as Phillips say corporations would still be able to contribute millions to Political Action Committees, but unions would be left high and dry.
Hernandez said the proposition is one-sided.
“As long as private industry is allowed a mechanism to support political positions, then unions should be allowed, too,” he said.
While he said he wasn’t there for the rally, Denham said he supports the statewide initiative, saying it boils down to individual freedom and just makes sense.
“It ultimately comes down to the worker,” he said. “It should be the employee’s choice of whether to donate or not.”
Patterson City Council Candidate Tony Camacho said the Teamsters already separate union dues from political money and that union members voluntarily contribute political money.
“It’s not a fair proposition,” he said. “Especially the way they try to exclude themselves.”
Bryan Ronngren, business representative of Teamsters Local 386, said it was a phony reform measure.
“We’re not going to let tem take away the union’s voice,” he said.
The rally was part of a 22-day caravan that is traveling across the state to visit 30 worksites and build on a voter registration program spearheaded by Teamsters Joint Council 7 in San Francisco.
• News Reporter Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.