Protesters gathered outside Apple Farm Inn in San Luis Obispo Tuesday where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a brief visit as part of a campaign trip to urge Californians to vote for propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77 in the upcoming special election Nov. 8.
Over 100 firefighters, teachers and community members booed the governor, chanting, “SLO says no” on all four propositions, primarily Proposition 75.
“We’re out here protesting the special election because we feel it’s an unnecessary election and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Erik Baskin, president of the San Luis Obispo City Firefighters. “We’re against all four primary propositions on the ballot because they are another attack on organized labor that would push labor back into the Dark Ages and make it harder for union members.”
Currently, all public employees (both union and non-union members) pay dues and fees annually, and a portion of these dues goes to various political purposes like supporting or opposing candidates and issues. Proposition 75 would require public employee unions to obtain written consent from all employees before using the fees for political purposes.
“Arnold wants to make each union get 100 percent signatures from all employees, and in a large union it’s going to be hard to garner every signature,” Baskin said. “Proposition 75 will put in more bureaucracy and silence our voice. The beauty of the democratic process is freedom of speech. It’s our constitutional right.”
Schwarzenegger supports Prop 75 because it allows “paycheck protection,” meaning government employees can decide how their wages are spent in regards to supporting political candidates or issues, because it requires employees to give their permission before their money is used for political contributions.
“Arnold wants to take away our First Amendment rights,” said Cheryl Conway, an electrical office union member. “Everything the national Republicans want to do destroys the middle class.”
Many members of the Cal Poly College Republicans also assembled outside Apple Farm Inn to support the governor with signs reading “Reform and Rebuild.”
Jennifer Reyes, a political science junior and member of Cal Poly College Republicans, agrees with the propositions since she thinks they will fix the budget problems, improve the public education system and give union workers a vote.
“He’s like an action-hero in every sense of the word,” said Taylor Scott, business junior and member of the Cal Poly College Republicans. “The propositions benefit the people, not the party, and there are no special interests. They just make sense.”
Gov. Schwarzenegger will return to San Luis Obispo on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to speak at the Madonna Inn to urge voters to support his reforms. The speech is not open to the public but 200 community members have been invited to attend.