California Professional Firefighters

Stop The Special Exemptions Act: No on Prop. 32

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For the third time in 14 years, hard line enemies of working families have placed before voters an initiative to silence the voices of firefighters and other working people. 

Proposition 32 on the November ballot -- the Special Exemptions Act -- would choke off the effective voice of you and your fellow firefighters, all the while protecting the rights of corporations and the super rich. If approved, the measure would clear the way for Super PACs and the super rich to roll out eight- and nine-figure campaigns targeting the basic rights of firefighters, their families and all working Californians.


Their endgame is crystal clear – silence your voice so they can steal your future,” said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. “The calculated language of Proposition 32 gives special exemptions to the richest special interests even as it restricts the political rights of everyday families.

The proponents call Prop. 32 a “Stop Special Interest Money” initiative. A closer look, however, reveals the special breaks in a measure intentionally written to muzzle working people while letting big money off the hook.

Unbalanced "Reform"

Like previous "paycheck deception" initiatives, Prop. 32 restricts your right to make a voluntary payroll deduction to use your voice in the process. Pooling these resources gives working people a fighting chance at being heard above the roar of big money, which outspends labor by 15-to-one. 

The backers of Prop. 32 have shrouded their attack in a cloak of "reform" by banning payroll deductions for corporations as well. But here's the thing:  Corporations don’t use payroll deductions for politics. They just write big checks.

“They try to make this sound like it’s campaign reform, but that’s a smokescreen,” said Contra Costa firefighter Lisa Beaty. “This is about silencing the working person’s voice.”


Hidden Exemptions

Hiding behind the bogus "reform" language is another story Prop. 32's backers don't want you to hear: the carefully drawn special exemptions for the deepest pockets.

Intentionally cut out of Prop. 32's restrictions are secretive Super PACs, Wall St. investment firms, hedge funds, real estate developers, insurance companies, and other big money interests.

Said Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain, "The 'Stop Special Interest Money Act' won't do anything of the kind."

Why It’s A Big Deal

In order to be heard at the bargaining table, firefighters must have a voice in the halls of power, and that means spending money to help elect firefighter-friendly candidates. “The gains that we’ve made didn’t come because fire chiefs and city managers were nice guys and wanted to do you a favor,” said Pasadena firefighter Don Cervantes. “Every inch was fought for and won at the bargaining table and at the ballot box.”

“If we only did one thing as a local, or through the CPF, it’s politics, because those (elected officials) are the ones who make the decisions on how you live and work day to day,” said Hayward Firefighters President Jason Livermore.


What’s At Stake

Make no mistake: The fight over corporate deception is about much more than politics. The loss of a strong, united firefighter voice touches every area of your life on and off the job. Pay, health care, retirement security, staffing levels, firefighter presumptions, workers’ comp protections and your very right to negotiate – all are on the block if Prop. 32 passes.

We could potentially lose in collective bargaining, in pension reform, in a number of areas,” said Costa Mesa Firefighters President Tim Vasin. “Even benefits we’ve had for decades, such as presumption laws, could be gone instantaneously.

Fighting Back

Although previous attempts to muzzle public workers have ended in defeat, the challenge is great. Upwards of $20 million or more that the other side is expected to spend to impose their attack. Already, high-profile super-rich ideologues like Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers have made the pilgrimage to California.

We need more than ever to get out, talk to our friends, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in the firehouse and let them know what’s at stake,” said Paulson. “This isn’t just about firefighters or unions. It’s about basic fairness and democracy. It’s a fight we can’t afford to lose.”

Keep track of the campaign and find out how you can make a difference. Follow the latest at CPF's Campaign 2012 page or go to

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