The headline of Brian Calle’s Uncommon Ground column in the Orange County Register yesterday reads Unions continue spending spree in California. Unsurprisingly, his headline and story misrepresents the truth. Of the top 10 lobbying spenders listed in the LATimes analysis he cites, only two are unions.
Calle while pointing out that the top two spenders in 2011 were unions, the California Teachers Association at $6,574,257 and State Council of Service Employees at $4,998796, deliberately leaves out that the remainder of the top 5 were non-union spenders. The Western States Petroleum Assn. came in at $ 4,273,654, City of Vernon at $3,517,591, and Kaiser Family Foundation Health Plans at $3,014998. Of the top ten spenders on lobbying 67% were non-union.
The reality that Calle doesn’t want you to know is that lobbying expenditures by non-union interests far exceed those by unions. Unions, like other industry or business interests, spend money to influence legislators. There is nothing unusual about that. But when you take the total amount of money spent on lobbying in Sacramento, unions are not the dominant financial force Calle would have you believe.
Unions are however the dominant force in representing the interests of the average working person in California. Unions represent the needs of middle class Californians. Unions lobby for better working conditions, living wages, appropriately funded public education, and fair distribution of taxes where corporations and the wealthiest Californians pay their fair share of state expenditures.
The Orange County Register, and Brian Calle, refuse to recognize that unions are not evil monsters to be vilified, they provide an important, and critical counter-balance to the those interests wishing to widen the gap between the wealthiest Californians and everyone else. Unions are the only group left standing against the destruction of California’s middle class.