How to Raise US Labor Unions from the Dead

How to raise US labor unions from the dead — tomorrow — practically and practicably:

In BALLOT INITIATIVE states, it typically takes only 5% of signatures of registered voters of the number who voted in the last governor’s election to put your initiative on the ballot. (OR, CA, MO, MI, OH, OK, CO, NE ND, SD, MT)

Check the numbers of who should line around the block to sign an initiative making union busting a felony:
— nationally, 45% bottom income share has dropped from 20% to 10% over two generations (while per capita income has doubled).

Does that mean the bottom 45% are back where they started in absolute terms: half of twice as much? Not across the board; incomes are on a slope. 20-25% are lower in absolute terms: which is why we have a $7.25/hr fed min wage — down from $11/hr (adjusted) in 1968.

Check the numbers who should line up around the block to sign for a higher state minimum wage:
— nationally, 45% of employees earn less than $15/hr.

We could conceivably get 5% of registered voters out there collecting signatures!

 

Some states like California put a winning initiative on the law books immediately. Most, allow the legislature one shot at approval. If it doesn’t approve the measure goes back to voters for final decision.

In California you write in plain language what you want your initiative to say and a state legal office will put it into proper words for a state law.

In California circulators (signature collectors) may be paid employees. This has led in recent years to initiatives becoming the play thing of billionaires — the opposite of the original intention.

If initiatives can quickly and easily take our world back, then, Fight for 15 and labor unions and others now have a new, all critical mission: register and sign up as many voters as possible.

Raising the issue of making union busting a felony to a high level of national consciousness should prompt legislatures in progressive states to finally wake up and face what they need to do — what we all need them to do. (WA, IL, MN, NY, MA, VT, CT, RI, PA, MD, VA, etc.)

http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ballot-measures/pdf/statewide-initiative-guide.pdf

Denis Drew
Chicago

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