By HOWARD FINE
The two major business-related initiatives on the June 2 ballot Propositions 224 and 226 are generating millions of dollars in campaign contributions from business and labor groups.
Proposition 224, which would revamp the state’s procedures for contracting out engineering and design work in a way that opponents claim would skew the process in favor of state employees, has drawn opposition from dozens of architectural and engineering firms in the L.A. area.
Overall, opponents of Proposition 224 have raised $4.8 million since the beginning of 1997, according to documents filed with the Elections Division of the California Secretary of State’s office.
Proponents, who claim the initiative would save taxpayers money because it would force state agencies to use competitive bids for all engineering and design contracts, raised $840,000 during the same period.
Besides the Professional Engineers in California Government, a union representing state engineers that sponsored the initiative, contributions also came from unions or union members who work in government agencies.
However, Proposition 224’s proponents had raised $2 million in 1996, with three-fourths of that spent in qualifying the initiative for the ballot.
Meanwhile, labor unions are mounting a major effort to defeat Proposition 226, which would require unions to gain the consent of their members before using union dues for political purposes. The measure is widely seen as an attempt to weaken the political power of labor unions.
About 85 percent of the funding through March of this year has come from the California Teachers Association, which contributed $3.3 million during the first 11 weeks of 1998.
More than $30,000 has come directly from national union headquarters or union chapters in other states, including $20,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers in Washington D.C.
Supporters of Proposition 226, whose campaign is chaired by Gov. Pete Wilson, raised $383,000 during the first 11 weeks of 1998.
Among the biggest local contributors were Robert Petersen, chairman emeritus of Petersen Publishing Co. LLC in Los Angeles, who gave $50,000; Bert Boeckmann, president of Galpin Ford and a leader in the San Fernando Valley secession movement, who gave $10,000 last October; and Watson Land Co. of Carson, which also gave $10,000.