Workers’ correspondence

Sitting at breakfast with a couple of union buddies, talking about the California recall, we recalled defeating the 1998 effort to gag labor’s voice in our state known as Prop. 226.

“It was right-wing shot across the bow,” said John, a shipyard worker.

“Yeah, and we met it with a broadside!” laughed Scott, an ironworker and Navy veteran, too.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“Well after (then-Gov.) Pete Wilson took away our daily overtime, raided the state workers’ pension funds, blocked increasing the minimum wage and cut back on prevailing wage laws, he hooked up with out-of-state right-wingers to finance an initiative which would cut our unions out of the (political) system.”

“But broadside?”
“We did everything to fight back. And I don’t just mean flyers and rallies, but worksite meetings, precinct walks, phone banks, lawn signs, buttons, and stickers everywhere … on your hardhat, your lunch bucket, your tool bucket, your truck, heck, even on the mirror of the restroom in this restaurant!”

“You put it there, Scott!” John interrupted. “But seriously, Dan, you remember all the grassroots stuff we did as well. Letters to the editors, calling in to radio talk shows, neighborhood committees, going to the Democratic Party clubs and all kinds of activist groups we built solidarity with.”

“With Pete Wilson back on the scene we’re going to need that kind of unity or it’s ‘Hasta la vista, unions!’” I said.

“Yeah, what’s up with that?” asked Scott. “I saw it on a worksite flyer.”

“We forget that Prop. 226 was in the primary election of 1998. Winning meant political momentum for our movement. It gave Gray Davis the boost he needed to win the general election, and the coattails to restore daily overtime, enforce prevailing wage laws, implement family leave, create union agreements, improve job safety and protect health care.

“Pete Wilson is Ahnold’s campaign co-chair. Ahnold’s is the velvet glove over the iron fist of those same union-busters behind Prop. 226. A kinder/gentler right-wing programmed cyborg that’ll terminate all the gains working families have made in this state! Like it said, ‘I’ll be back.’ It’s a shape shifter too. Appearing as anything in order to getcha!”

“Are you Sarah Conner?”

“OK you guys, knock it off! This is serious business and we’ve got a lot of work to do to defeat this recall.”

“Yeah, lets go to work.”

“Let’s go to work!”

Danny Morales is a shipyard worker and PWW reader. He can be reached at