Guards' union drops Schwarzenegger recall effort

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A powerful union representing California prison guards on Thursday dropped its recall campaign against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, saying it will instead focus on ballot questions and pointing out that he doesn't have much time left in office anyway.

Even if a recall succeeded, it would knock Schwarzenegger out of office only a few months early, said Lance Corcoran, spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

The union launched its campaign last month in frustration over its lack of a contract since 2006. Union leaders accuse Schwarzenegger of trying to break the union, but he denies that.

The secretary of state last week rejected the first recall petition on technical grounds. The union had until Friday to try again.

The union would have needed to collect more than a million signatures to put the recall before voters in mid-2009, and Schwarzenegger's term ends in 2010. The Republican took office in 2003 after the successful recall of Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.

The recall effort drew little support from other state labor unions that the prison guards had hoped would back a recall.

"We thought all along that this recall talk was totally unproductive," said Julie Soderlund, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger. "The governor is still committed to the negotiating process. However, he's not going to give this union the sweetheart deal that they're looking for."

Union officials said they will now focus their time and money on defeating a Schwarzenegger-backed measure on the Nov. 4 ballot that would change how legislative districts are drawn and a proposal that would require the state to fund drug rehabilitation programs instead of sending addicts to prison or jail.

The 30,000-member union is a Sacramento powerhouse, but it has failed twice in the past 18 months to persuade lawmakers to approve backdoor pay raises.

A state study this month that found California guards earn 39 percent more than those in 10 large or neighboring states or in the federal government.