Jefferson City – Despite a concerted effort by Labor leaders and worker-friendly lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the Missouri Legislature last week passed an anti-union, anti-worker paycheck deception bill requiring public employees to give annual consent for money to be taken out of their paychecks for union dues.
The Republican-controlled Missouri Senate passed a Senate substitute for HB 1891, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston), March 1 by a vote of 23-7. The bill then went back to the House, where it was approved by a vote of 109-49, a so-called veto-proof majority.
DISAPPOINTED AND DISHEARTENED
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, called the vote “very disappointing.”
“I am very disheartened that the number of legislators supporting paycheck deception was more than expected,” Louis said.
The sole purpose of paycheck deception legislation, Louis said, is:
- To weaken all unions and the ability to speak up for workers;
- To further skew the political balance of power in our state toward corporations and wealthy individuals, and
- To silence the voices of working people.
“We are disappointed that some legislators who have supported Organized Labor voted for this unnecessary bill, which will further tilt the playing field to the powerful corporations while drowning out the voices of Missouri’s working people,” Louis said.
“But as members of Organized Labor, we focus on the work ahead and will stand with members of the Legislature that support working people and our issues,” he concluded.
Republicans have backed so-called "paycheck protection" bills for years, saying that union members should have a greater say in how their dues are spent. Labor leaders, Democrats and some union friendly Republicans have opposed the measures, saying they are an unnecessary attack on unions and a thinly veiled effort to get to the ultimate goal of right-to-work.
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In the House, seven Republicans voted against the bill’s passage: Rep. Ron Hicks of St. Peters; Rep. Anne Zerr of St. Charles; Rep. Elaine Gannon of Desoto; Rep. Mike Leara of South St. Louis County; Rep. Becky Ruth of Festus; Rep. Nick Marshall of Parkville; and Rep. Bill Kidd of Independence. Rep. Linda Black (R-Park Hills), who has opposed the measure, was absent.
One Democrat — Rep. Courtney Curtis of Ferguson — voted for the bill.
The measure won 23 votes in the Senate, just enough to override a veto. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) voted for the measure.
House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, a member of IBEW Local 1 and secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO said a veto was expected.
“We’re confident that the Governor will veto this legislation,” Hummel said. But that is not a guarantee that it will not become law.
“The Republicans had 109 votes (in the House), exactly what they need for a veto override,” Hummel said.
Even with the bill passing both chambers with a so-called “veto proof” majority, it's not clear if Republicans will have enough support to override a potential veto. Sen. Gary Romine (R-Farmington), who voted against a controversial right-to-work bill last year and is up for reelection, was absent for the Senate vote. Sen. Paul Wieland (R-Imperial), another pro-union Republican, voted "no."
In addition, the bill exempts first responders such as firefighters and police.
Senate Minority leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) told reporters that could raise a legal argument on equal protection.
“If this bill comes into law, I would imagine somebody’s going to raise that question,” Keaveny told Missourinet.
Nixon has 15 days from the March 3 vote to either sign or veto the bill, which means that an override vote could take place during the regular legislative session which ends in May.
Hummel said an override vote could take place by the end of the month.
Lawmakers passed a similar paycheck protection bill in 2013. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that measure and Republican leaders were unable to garner enough votes for an override.