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Local 853 members help beat back the Terminator’s attack


Public employees, Teamsters, and all of California’s working people won a tremendous victory on November 8, sending all four of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s anti-worker propositions down to a crushing defeat.

This wasn’t an easy victory. When Governor Schwarzenegger and his corporate allies first launched their attack on public workers and their unions, early polls showed support for the antiworker propositions. Proposition 75, the initiative designed to restrict union involvement in the political arena and the heart of Schwarzenegger’s attack on working families, at one time enjoyed a 55–23 percent edge with voters. However, by election day, Schwarzenegger’s cornerstone lost 53 percent to 47 percent.

Achieving that turn-around took thousands of union members across the state putting in days and nights of phone banking, precinct walking, rally organizing, mailings and meetings.


Voters get the message

Fortunately, voters were not fooled by the Special Election. They rejected Arnold Schwarzenegger’s power grab, and they rejected his bullying antics and his politics of blame.

California union members passed out more than 2 million workplace leaflets and made more than 2 million phone calls to mobilize union family voters against the corporate-backed attacks. The Los Angeles Times reported that the campaign against working families was “financed chiefly by business interests, including real estate developers, technology executives, auto dealers, agribusiness and Wal-Mart heirs.”

Ultimately, California’s working people didn’t buy the notion that silencing unions and giving the governor new sweeping powers would really solve the problems facing California.

No rest yet

As sweet as this victory is for union members, it is essentially a holding action. If you listened to the governor on Election Night, you know that he offered no apology for the ordeal he put our state through. He had no apology for the trash talking he did about firefighters, teachers and nurses. And he has done nothing to suggest he is backing away from his plan to gut the retirement system or continue bleeding money from local governments.

“This fight is far from over. While more members of our Local registered to vote and participated in DRIVE than ever before, that’s just a start,” says Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise. “The governor’s long-term agenda is to break union power. Next, he wants to take away public employees’ defined benefit pension plans and then make California a right-to-work state.”

Teamsters and a strong majority of California voters sent the Terminator a message loud and clear: “Your special election was a waste of time, money and effort. Terminate your right-wing agenda and get back to the business of governing the state instead of posing for photo ops on the campaign trail.”