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California Labor Seeks to Blunt Koch Brothers' Influence and Reach

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PHOTO: Oakland port facilities offer good-paying jobs, but California labor groups say political ad money from outside the state, including money from the Koch Brothers, is pushing an agenda that exacerbates the nation's economic divide. Photo credit: Johannes Seemann/Morguefile.
PHOTO: Oakland port facilities offer good-paying jobs, but California labor groups say political ad money from outside the state, including money from the Koch Brothers, is pushing an agenda that exacerbates the nation's economic divide. Photo credit: Johannes Seemann/Morguefile.
 By Tommy Hough, Public News Service - CA, Contact
September 9, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. - According to a new report from the Center for Public Integrity, political networks funded by the Koch Brothers have already paid for nearly 44,000 television ads for political causes this year.

In California, labor groups say they're working to counter campaigns for far-right causes and lawmakers. Fred Glass, communications director with the California Federation of Teachers, says the Koch Brothers' priorities are contributing to the nation's growing economic divide.

"They lobby against tax increases for the wealthy," says Glass. "Tax rates on the wealthy are lower at this point in time than they have been in the last 80 years. And that contributes greatly to decline in public services, public education - and that's what the Koch Brothers stand for."

Nationally, one anti-Koch Brothers ad is getting a lot of attention. It features two longtime labor supporters who just happen to share the same last name as the Koch Brothers, but are not related. The 'Koch Sisters' describe themselves as 'average women' with views that directly oppose the wealthy Koch Brothers' libertarian positions and philosophy.

Glass says the ads haven't run in California yet, but he suspects they'd have an enthusiastic audience.

"The Koch Brothers think that if you're not a millionaire by the time you're 30, it's your fault," he says. "We have growing economic inequality in this country, and policies pushed by individuals like the Koch Brothers are exacerbating that."

Glass says wages in California are lagging behind the overall cost of living in the state. He adds labor organizations have been working with each other and community organizations to draw a clear picture for dues-paying members, and the public, of the economic inequality being promoted by Koch Brothers-funded candidates and initiatives.

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