Jefferson City – Gov. Jay Nixon recently vetoed the infamous “paycheck deception” bill, which anti-union business interests have been promoting in states across the country to destroy the political influence of public employee unions, the fastest growing sector of the American labor movement.
The bill would have prevented public employee unions from using member dues for political contributions and prevented local and state governments from allowing their employees to benefit from automatic paycheck deductions for political contributions.
The bill would have required union members to give annual written authorization for deductions.
Masquerading as “paycheck protection” the bill would have established a system of voluntary union dues that allowed some members to freeload on their dues-paying colleagues. Over time, it would have substantially reduced the resources of unions to educate their members on local, state and federal issues affecting wages, pensions, health care, working conditions and job safety, among other things.
Bob Soutier, president of the St. Louis Labor Council, praised the governor for his veto.
“This was a big piece of the GOP program to bust unions and without a Democrat in the governor’s chair, it probably would have become law.
“Thank God for Nixon,” Soutier said, pointing out that Republican governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana had signed similar bills after Republican legislatures passed them.”
Hugh McVey, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, issued a statement saying, “With today’s veto, Governor Nixon stood up for the basic rights of Missouri’s everyday heroes – the people who work every day to keep our state working.”
“Nurses, teachers, police officers and countless other middle class Missourians would have lost their voice on the job if this unfair and dangerous paycheck deception bill were to become law.”
In vetoing the bill, Nixon said the bill would have placed what he called “unnecessary burdens on public employees for the purpose of weakening labor organizations.”
The bill would have unfairly singled out one group of workers, he said. It exempted firefighters and other first responders from the requirement.
Nixon said, “There are a number of items that employees may elect to have withheld from their paychecks, including money for college savings accounts, deferred compensation, and 401(k) plans. In any of these instances, the withholdings are based on one-time authorizations that the employee clearly has the authority to revoke at any time…. But under this bill, public employees who are members of unions would be required to complete two separate written authorizations each year. Singling out union dues for these extra processes serves no beneficial purpose” and instead “places unnecessary burdens on public employees for the purpose of weakening labor organizations.”
The union community in Missouri lobbied hard against the bill and managed to gain the support of more than 20 Republicans in the House of Representatives; not enough to stop its passage, but enough to prevent an over-ride of the veto in September’s special session of the legislature, if Republican leaders attempt it.
Union lobbyists will be working this summer to hold their support among House Republicans, who undoubtedly will be getting pressure from their leadership and business lobbyists to abandon their previous position.