Labor unions and business interests have been quietly raising millions of dollars and testing campaign messages in California for months, girding for a brawl over a November ballot measure that could fundamentally shift political power in Sacramento.
Now, on the heels of an election that saw unions handed a major defeat last week in Wisconsin, the opposing camps in California soon will launch a campaign battle likely to consume $50 million or more in political spending.
"Unions have just two channels of influence," said Daniel J.B. Mitchell of the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, "collective bargaining and the political side, so this initiative is extremely important to them."
The measure, which has not yet received a proposition number, would ban both unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates, although both sides could still freely spend money on their own independent efforts.
Another provision forbids both sides from using money gathered from payroll deductions for political purposes. It promises to gut the power of labor unions because they raise nearly all of their money for political and other purposes via payroll-deducted dues from their members' paychecks.
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Jake Suski, spokesman for Stop Special Interest Money, will be on the show at 5 PM to discuss what the unions are up to.