Paycheck deception measure would require public employees to annually reauthorize paying dues through paycheck withholdings
By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – The GOP controlled Missouri House has given initial approval to a “paycheck deception” bill to change how public-sector union members pay dues.
On a voice vote, the House of Representatives on Feb. 7 gave preliminary approval to legislation that seeks to impose new procedural barriers to the efficient and timely collections of union dues. A second, recorded vote will be required for the measure to advance to the Senate.
Sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Nixa), HB 1413 is a tactic to destroy public employee unions’ ability to fight for members’ rights by preventing dues check-off and forcing employees to individually authorize dues payment withdrawals every year. It would also prohibit the use of dues money for any political purpose without a written OK from each union member every time a contribution is contemplated.
ANOTHER ATTACK ON WORKERS
Supporters say the bill would improve transparency in the dues collection process and make it easier for union members to withdraw if they no longer want to pay dues, a right they already have under federal law.
But opponents, including Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, say it imposes an unnecessary requirement designed to make it harder for workers to pay their dues, and is nothing more than another attempt by the Republican-dominated Legislature to silence workers by making it harder for unions to protect their rights and negotiate wages and benefits.
“Once again, here they are pushing a bill that is not going to do anything to improve wages for state workers in Missouri, who are the lowest paid of any state. Period,” Louis said. “We’re lower than Mississippi; we’re lower than Arkansas; we’re lower than Alabama. It’s disgusting that this Legislature is so intent on taking away the voice of workers and their families up to and including reducing wages and benefits. It’s just sickening. All of the good things they could be doing for the people of Missouri, and they’re not doing anything.”
Representative Doug Beck (D-Affton), a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, tried unsuccessfully to add an amendment that would remove from the bill first responders and the public-sector unions that represent them. The amendment, which included police, fire fighters and emergency medical technicians, was defeated by a vote of 85 to 63.
“This party, the majority party in our Legislature, is supposedly for safety and police and fire,” Beck said. “Yet they vote against these folks every time.
“First responders – whether it’s police, fire fighters, nurses who work with our veterans, EMTs – the things that they see and face every day tend to put a lot of stress on their lives. Some of them develop post-traumatic stress. They need to have someone there who has their back, and that’s their union.”
HB 1413 was expected to come up for a third reading and vote after the Labor Tribune’s deadline.