With Labor’s Support We Can Get The California Democracy Act On The Ballot

Introduction by Workers Action
Below are two items. (1) A Special Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign (WERC) Report by Bill Leumer and Alan Benjamin, Co-conveners of the WERC entitled: “With Labor’s Support We Can Get the California Democracy Act on the Ballot;” and (2) a Resolution of the San Francisco Labor Council on Building a Coalition for Progressive Taxation.

With Labor’s Support We Can Get the California Democracy Act on the Ballot

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

This coming April 12 is the deadline for submitting the 1 million signatures required to get the California Democracy Act (CDA) on the November 2010 ballot in California. CDA is an essential step toward winning progressive taxation. It would return majority rule to the California State Assembly (instead of the current two-thirds requirement) for all decisions regarding budget AND revenue.

The San Francisco Labor Council, United Educators of San Francisco, Peralta Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2121, and many other unions and community organizations have endorsed the CDA and are gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. But at this writing, the signature count is far below where it should be if the CDA is to qualify for the ballot.

The hundreds of thousands of people who mobilized on March 4 to demand “No Cuts! No Layoffs! No Fee Hikes!” need funding for public education and all social services. If the CDA passes, it will remove an important barrier preventing the raising of revenue for schools and social services.

A lot is being said in the press of late about polls and taxes — mostly to explain that voters don’t want to see any tax increases. This, of course, in understandable: Working people don’t want to see THEIR taxes increased. But when people are polled where one of the alternatives is to tax the rich and the corporations, the results are altogether different. (Oregon, where voters resoundingly approved a ballot initiative to tax the rich to pay for desperately needed public services, is a stunning example.)

Two recent polls — reflecting the changing mood of voters — show that a majority supports progressive taxation to preserve the public sector.

An article in the New York Times dated Dec. 10, 2009, reported that, “A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Dec. 3-7 shows that two-thirds of Americans favor taxing the rich to reduce the deficit.”

According to this Bloomberg poll, Americans want the government to create jobs through spending on public works, investments in alternative energy, and/or skills-training for the jobless. They also want the deficit to come down. And most are ready to hand the bill to the wealthy.

An Associated Press poll in mid-March reports that a majority is in favor of taxing the rich to pay for healthcare reform. The AP wire explains:

“When it comes to paying for a healthcare overhaul, Americans see just one way to go: Tax the rich. … The poll found participants sour on other ways of paying for the health overhaul that is being considered in Congress, including taxing insurers on high-value coverage packages derided by President Barack Obama and Democrats as ‘Cadillac plans.'”

If labor unleashes its forces and steps up to the plate to help get CDA on the ballot and then pushes for progressive taxation measures in the State Assembly — we can win. The time is now to begin building a movement with a vision and a strategy to save our public education and our vital social services — a movement aimed at defending working people by making the rich and the corporations pay their fair share!

In solidarity,

Bill Leumer and Alan Benjamin


Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign

Resolution for an Ad Hoc Labor Council Committee to Save Public Education, Social Services and For Progressive Taxation

[Note: The following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Delegates’ Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council on Monday, March 15.]

Whereas the economic crisis in both the city of San Francisco and the state of California is deepening for working people with the recent pay cuts for more than 17,000 San Francisco City workers, with over 900 pink slips sent to San Francisco public teachers, with the continuing furloughs of state workers, and with a state deficit of over $20 billion; and

Whereas the income of the top 400 Americans more than doubled since 2001 while they were taxed at a rate of 16.2 percent, which is “the lowest since the I.R.S. began tracking the data;” and

Whereas the income of working people has declined between 1980 and 2005, and the funding of social services has dropped precipitously; and

Whereas March 4 Day of Action confirmed the resolve of working people to mobilize to defend public education and social services; and

Whereas many unions have endorsed the call for progressive taxation, including the California Federation of Teachers; and

Whereas numerous polls show that the majority of people support raising taxes on the rich, including a recent Bloomberg National Poll that showed two-thirds of Americans favor taxing the rich in order to reduce the deficit and they “want their government to create jobs through spending on public works, investments in alternative energy or skills training for the jobless Š and most are ready to hand the bill to the wealthy”; and

Whereas the people of Oregon recently passed by a wide margin two measures that raised taxes on the rich and the corporations; and

Whereas the two-thirds requirement to raise taxes in the state of California, by subverting the will of the majority, is a barrier to passing progressive taxation; and

Whereas the California Democracy Act would, if passed, allow the state legislature to raise taxes with a simple majority vote, as opposed to the current two-thirds requirement; and

Whereas the San Francisco Labor Council has already passed a resolution (September 28, 2009) in support of building a coalition to pursue progressive taxation,

Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council now establish a committee to actively build a coalition among labor unions, community groups, and interested individuals that will mount a campaign to save public education, to protect public services and to promote progressive taxation to fund them in San Francisco and the state of California; and

Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council request that the California Federation of Labor endorse the California Democracy Act and call on all its affiliates to actively support this initiative by collecting signatures to place it on the November 2010 ballot.

Submitted by

Conny Ford, Vice President, SF Labor Council, OPEIU Local 3

Dennis Kelly, President, UESF, Exec. Committee, SF Labor Council

Gus Goldstein, President, AFT 2121, Exec. Committee SF Labor Council

Linda Plack, Vice President, UESF

Alan Benjamin, SFLC Executive Committee member, OPEIU Local 3