In 1996 California voters adopted proposition 209 which provided that “the State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” It banned government-sponsored affirmative action.
Today California voters consider proposition 16, to repeal that affirmative action ban. The state’s official arguments for and against are here. The argument in favor is that there’s still discrimination. The argument against is that affirmative action won’t solve this, and increase the cost of government contracting 5.6% by choosing non-lowest cost bidders based on race (as well as punish ‘overachieving’ Asians). The ‘for’ side has out-raised opponents 16 to 1.
United Airlines weighed in, and they want to see affirmative action in California. Matthew Klint cites an internal airline communication to employees,
United is deeply committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within our company as well as endorsing political action that supports furthering those efforts in citizens’ everyday lives. United has joined over 30 major San Francisco businesses (The Golden State Warriors, Salesforce and Twitter, to name a few) to sign an open letter in support of California’s Proposition 16, firmly believing that this legislative change will promote racial and gender equity, contributing to California’s economic success…
As an organization made of a diverse workforce, we are proud to support legislation that furthers the success of underrepresented communities.
The public letter United signed is here. United believes Proposition 16 will “ontinue to diversify the California workforce so that it reflects our state’s demographics.”
By the way when United furloughed 16,000 staff last month, including nearly 7000 flight attendants and 2000 mechanics, they didn’t take the racial makeup of their workforce into account. It strikes me as strange as well as critics on the left continue to see corporations as anathema to democracy and corporate issue advocacy as working against their goals.
Most recent polling has the measure failing, a surprise to many in the current political environment and in California in particular. But we – along with United – will learn the actual results soon enough.