Unions’ massive L.A. mobilization helped deliver the statewide margins of defeat for 32 and victory for 30

For Immediate Release                                 Contact: Caroline O’Connor, Communications Director, 213.400.8401

November 7, 2012

Unions’ massive L.A. mobilization helped deliver the statewide margins of defeat for 32 and victory for 30

LOS ANGELES – Because of a mammoth grass-roots mobilization by L.A. Labor, Los Angeles County racked up 1,406,707 million votes or 28 percent of the 5,086,590 million-vote statewide margin by which Californians rejected Proposition 32, the anti-union measure on the November 6 ballot, according to figures posted by the Secretary of State’s office. The same labor-backed endeavor contributed 1,351,925 million votes or 27 percent of the 4,959,206 million-vote statewide margin by which voters approved Proposition 30, Gov. Brown’s tax measure for schools and public safety.

In the final 12 weeks before the fall election, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and its affiliated local unions ran a full-blown campaign to defeat Prop. 32 and pass Prop. 30 out of 21 offices spread from Lancaster to San Pedro and from Culver City to Claremont. More than 20,000 union members and labor activists made phone calls and walked door-to-door, targeting four million registered county voters. Those combined efforts produced 500,000 one-on-one conversations with voters.

“Yes, we helped raise money so labor could compete with television ads because L.A. and California are so big,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the county federation. “But we also put much of our resources into mobilizing rank-and file union members who walked the precincts and made the phone calls. Tuesday’s triumph against 32 and for 30 demonstrated what a local labor movement could do to change the way unions do politics. Instead of simply acting as an ATM machine for political candidates, L.A. Labor dedicated itself to educating union members, registering them to vote, getting them to work in the campaigns and getting them to the polls. That helped make the difference in L.A. County, and the state.”

Durazo continues political practices begun by her late husband, Miguel Contreras, in the mid-1990s. They made the county labor federation, the second largest central labor body in the U.S., a model for the nation, able to put thousands of activists on the streets during any given election contest.

“Democracy can’t just be the play thing of the Koch brothers, Karl Rove and the Munger family,” Durazo said. “There has never before been an election where the super-rich played so direct a role. With unlimited money they come into California like an invading army trying to silence the voice of workers through support for Prop. 32, and to starve our schools, children, teachers and public safety by opposing Prop. 30. Yet their money could not overcome the hard work of firefighters, teachers, construction workers, grocery clerks, hotel workers, longshoremen, truck drivers, nurses, and stagehands talking to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.”

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