All Together NowAugust 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
We all have seen the statistic that it costs more to keep a drug offender in a California prison than it does to send him/her to college. I think about this as I read new reports of how many people won’t be able to attend the University of California, or teach there, or do their research there, or work there. Then I read about how the prison guard’s union is so powerful in California politics. Here’s an article from one of the many research organizations of UC that the state can’t want to fund anymore, the UCB Institute for Governmental Studies.
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) is the California prison guards’ union. In recent years the CCPOA has become a major player in California politics. Its political influence has grown to the point that it is widely considered to be one of the most powerful political forces in Sacramento. Its lobbying efforts and campaign contributions have greatly facilitated the passage of legislation favorable to union members.
And, I may add, favorable to the institutions of prisons themselves.
So why can’t the UC employee unions be a powerful force in California politics? They represent around 200,000 people. Why aren’t the UC unions out there lobbying for UC to be a vital part of California economy and social justice? Because UC has spent the last 25 years spending their state-funded money to break the employee unions. UC’s employees are a natural voice for the importance of UC –as opposed to more and larger prisons. But that voice was suppressed, that partnership was rebuffed. Now UC is asking us to individually lobby our legislators and write stories about how UC changed our lives. That’s all very nice, but our political system responds to collective action. Now the unions are fighting for their members alone, pointing out that we’re all getting paycuts while executive positions continue to be created. Too bad the unions can’t be in cahoots with management in Sacramento, like the prison guards and the prison industry.