This op-ed piece is not an indictment of the SEIU or any other union. It is an opinion that is opposed to ANY PRE-COMMITMENT (BY AN ELECTED OFFICIAL) OF VOTING ON FUTURE ISSUES TO ANY BUSINESS GROUP, TAXPAYER ASSOCIATION, ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS, UNIONS OR ANY OTHER PERSON.
According to the Webster Definition, a “Pledge” is:
*a thing that is given as security for the fulfillment of a contract or the payment of a debt and is liable to forfeiture in the event of failure.
*the state of being held as a security or guaranty
*something given as security for the performance of an act
*a binding promise or agreement to do or forbear
This Op-ed is about demanding a candidate vote a certain way. I am not taking a position for or against workers choosing to unionize. I think that is a personal choice, and far be it for me to decide what is best for any individual. This Soapbox is about how the candidates predetermine their future votes in order to secure endorsements and campaign contributions. How does the ECA want to be remembered and known?
Several years ago, public employee unions devised a method for determining which candidates they would support. The method included the potential candidate signing what was called a “CANDIDATE PLEDGE”. If a candidate signed the pledge, they got interviewed and would the SEIU could consider endorsing them and possibly contributing campaign dollars to the candidate. If a candidate refused to sign the “Pledge”, the candidate did not even get granted an interview by the SEIU.
Here is a copy of the SEIU Candidate Pledge that was widely circulated years ago:
“As a candidate and elected official, I hereby pledge:
- To publicly support and actively encourage workers who are organizing a union with the SEIU
- To publicly support and actively encourage the position that workers should be able to freely choose for themselves whether they want to gain a voice on the job by unionizing without the intimidating effects of any employer interference. This includes publicly supporting and encouraging employers to remain neutral on the question of unionization.
- To publicly support and actively encourage the position that no taxpayer money should be spent interfering with the right of workers to freely choose a union
- To publicly support and actively encourage a fair and fast process for determining worker support for unionization including a secret ballot election or card check recognition
- To publicly support and actively encourage employers to negotiate with the union within 90 days after the majority of workers express their choice in favor of forming a union
- To publicly support and actively encourage employers to negotiate good faith collective bargaining agreements with their workers and to abide by the terms of those agreements.
At our last Board Meeting, held 2-18-2020, we discussed the ECA Policy on candidates who sign these types of Pledges. The ECA adopted a “soft” approach years ago that basically said “if a candidate has signed a Pledge or a “pre commitment” of a candidate’s votes or actions for future issues, the ECA would consider that fact in whether we would endorse or contribute campaign dollars to that candidate. Other organizations adopted a “harder” approach. The NCBE says “Candidates running for elected offices in Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties will not be endorsed or financially supported if they have signed a Voting Pledge or similar document of any kind”. The issue came up because when we decided to endorse and support Shirlee Zane in October 2019, she had not signed a Pledge at that time, and she has subsequently signed one. I owed it to the Board to bring it up so they could consider whether to rescind our endorsement, or simply write a strong letter to Shirlee that expresses our dismay that she would pre determine her future voting on issues in exchange for an endorsement from the SEIU. The Board decided to keep our endorsement of Shirlee (her opponent Chris Coursey signed the same Pledge), but they want to consider our policy on endorsing candidates in the future.
Here is what I personally believe the ECA should consider:
- Because of Zane’s late decision to sign a Pledge, the ECA does no more “early endorsements” of any candidate. We decide 1-2 weeks prior to ballots going out who we are endorsing, and let our Membership know.
- The ECA no longer will contribute any dollars to any candidate’s campaign until the day of the election. We can never be accused of trying to “buy influence” that way.
- We adopt a firm rule that is any candidate pledges or promises to vote the way any special interest demands they vote on future issues not yet before them, we will not consider endorsing them or contributing any dollars to their campaign.
- If we adopt these policies, we make sure all potential candidates and elected officials receive them and understand them.
- Finally-we will work hard to convince other Associations that endorse and write campaign checks to follow the lead of the NCBE and ECA in all future campaigns for local candidates.
This is my opinion. I Pledge to you that I have not, and will not, ever ask a candidate to predetermine how they will vote in exchange for ECA endorsements or campaign contributions. I will ask them questions, I will question their responses, but I will not promise or pledge support.
That’s All Folks