Unified against Proposition 32, labor works to get out the vote
One of the biggest ironies of Campaign 2012 may be that an initiative intended to undercut labor ended up galvanizing it.
On Tuesday, labor unions fanned out across precincts in the final push of a massive get-out-the-vote operation built in large part to defeat Proposition 32, a ballot measure that could sharply rein in its political clout in California.
In the process, the intense effort could make the difference in a number of tight contests up and down the ballot, including that of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative, Proposition 30.
Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, said unions started their political efforts months early this year, canvassing work sites throughout the summer -- well before the traditional Labor day kickoff. He said the federation gave local unions volunteer quotas for the first time, yielding more than 30,000 campaign workers.
Unions also helped to bankroll an effort to increase turnout among Latinos. The group Mi Familia Vota said it expected to deploy 500 people on election day to knock on doors in Los Angeles to get voters to the polls.
The unions' opponents — Republican donors, anti-tax activists and business executives — have focused their resources on television and radio, investing tens of millions of dollars in ads to boost support for Proposition 32 and attack Brown's tax initiative. The state GOP has set up a dozen offices across the state, although party officials said they lacked the resources to match labor's ground game.
Recent polls showed Proposition 32 languishing and Proposition 30 slipping below the 50% threshold.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A man hands out signs at a rally in Los Angeles earlier this month. Credit: Reed Saxon/Associated Press