- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 18, 2005

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed a ballot measure requiring public employee unions to get written permission before using money from member dues for political purposes.

Democrats viewed the endorsement Saturday at the state Republican Party convention as an attack because Democratic political candidates are the principal beneficiaries of labor-union contributions.

The measure, dubbed “Paycheck Protection,” will appear on the ballot as Proposition 75. It was funded by advisers to Mr. Schwarzenegger but had not previously been part of his “year of reform” agenda.

“Public employee union members should not be forced to contribute to causes, candidates and controversial issues that they don’t believe in,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “That isn’t a contribution, it’s a tax.”

Republicans have tried for years to pass such measures in California and elsewhere, arguing that unions unfairly take dues from the paychecks of rank-and-file members — many of them Republicans — and contribute the money mainly to Democratic candidates and causes. To demonstrate the point, Proposition 75 campaign officials produced several unionized public employees who said they support the initiative.

Democrats said the goal of the Republicans is to muzzle the state’s labor movement, not protect Republican-leaning workers.

“Proposition 75 is the crown jewel of the Bush-Schwarzenegger agenda,” said State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Mr. Schwarzenegger next year. “It’s what they’re after. Everything else is a mask.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger, who announced Friday that he would seek a second term, spent most of his convention speech asking for help in passing his three other major initiatives — extending the probationary period for teachers from two years to five, capping state spending and stripping lawmakers of the power to draw their own political boundaries.

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