By Mike Myslinski
Special Exemptions Act would silence voice of teachers
Envision masking tape being placed across your mouth. That’s what the Special Exemptions Act, formerly called the Corporate Power Grab Initiative, will do to you.
The initiative’s intent is to strangle the collective voices of California labor and to prevent teachers from being a force for good in classrooms and worksites.
The Special Exemptions Act shackles the political power of working men and women and creates special exemptions for billionaires. Secretive super PACs (political action committees) are exempted from restrictions so they can continue to be used by corporations to raise unlimited amounts of money to support their candidates and thwart their critics. The end result: Billionaires garner even more political power.
Proponents hypocritically call this the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act.” We call it the Special Exemptions Act because its goals are misleading and unnecessary and because it benefits Wall Street. This initiative would allow super PACs and billionaire businessmen to write their own rules to have an even greater influence in politics, while unions would be silenced. Corporations already outspend unions 15 to 1, and thanks to the Citizens United ruling declaring corporations are individuals, the Koch brothers and other deep-pocketed Wall Street barons poured millions of dollars into elections across the country.
“They made a mockery of democracy and nearly drowned out the voices of working families,” says CTA President Dean Vogel. “But we’ve got right and truth on our side. We just have to use our voice.”
The Special Exemptions Act makes it harder for unions to raise funds for political purposes, adding layers of red tape and denying union members the right to make voluntary political contributions out of paychecks. CTA members already have the right by law to opt out of having dues money spent on political campaigns.
“This initiative hurts students, our profession and our communities,” says Dean Vogel. “It silences our voice on the political discussions that impact our classrooms, from class sizes, textbooks, due process and bargaining rights to testing, pensions and safety standards.”
CTA is looking for people who care. “People who are not afraid to stand up for what is right for their profession and for the students they serve,” Vogel adds. “The public deserves to know about what is going on in our schools from the people who are doing the work in our schools.”
Spend this summer educating yourself, your friends and family about the Special Exemptions Act and then vote no in November. Check out CTA’s website, www.cta.org/campaign2012. There you’ll find what you need to learn and share.
“Take every opportunity to talk about this attack on our rights and the attempt to silence the voice of the middle class,” Vogel says. “Let parents, friends and neighbors know that if they take away our ability to advocate for their students, they are taking away the chance at a better tomorrow for all of us. Use our voice to say: We are CTA and we will not be silenced!”