Jefferson City – After helping to lead a filibuster in the Missouri Senate to try to stop the anti-union, anti-worker paycheck deception bill (HB 1891) requiring public employees to give annual consent for money to be taken out of their paychecks for union dues or political activity, state Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), had some choice words for the bill's supporters.
Walsh, a retired member of Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1, currently serves as president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council.
“The Republican majority preaches less government intrusion in our lives until they decide they want more intrusion on our freedom to organize and collectively bargain,” Walsh said of the Republican legislators backing the measure.
“This paycheck deception law would create unfair government regulations requiring workers to go through burdensome bureaucratic hoops in order to voluntarily provide funds for political education and advocacy,” Walsh said.
“No corporation or other organization has similar restrictions. The only purpose is to force workers to spend more resources collecting dues so that workers have less ability to advocate for better wages, solid healthcare coverage, decent pension benefits, and meaningful safety protections on the job.”
Walsh said the law limits free speech and workers’ rights to organize.
“The paycheck deception bill says that the government has more say in how workers spend their money than the workers themselves,” Walsh said. “This is not about protecting workers, but to silence us by diminishing our collective voice.”
See previous story: Missouri Legislature passes paycheck deception
Some proponents of the bill, which was sent to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for his signature or veto earlier this month, argue that it is actually a step in campaign finance reform.
That’s not the case, Walsh said.
“This paycheck protection law is not campaign finance reform,” she said. “The kind of unlimited political spending Citizens United allows (mostly on attack ads) creates a crude, counterproductive form of political dialogue, which breeds unthinking partisanship and oversimplified discussion via sound bites. Real reform would be a repeal of Citizens United.
“For decades, corporations have been building power over our political process — power that comes at the expense of workers. If anything, by forcing workers to follow one set of rules while ignoring corporations, these laws tilt the political playing field even further toward corporate interests.”
Proponents of the bill have been engaged in a campaign of misinformation, Walsh said, implying that union members don’t have a choice about paying dues or making political contributions.
“The misleading information on paycheck deception needs to stop,” Walsh said. “Union members always have a choice. No worker in Missouri can be forced to join a union. Period. Furthermore, unions already have a process by which workers can opt-out of having dues used for political education."
A STEPPING STONE TOWARD RTW
Missouri Republican politicians admit that paycheck deception laws are a stepping stone to further worker restrictions.
Former Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones said that while “there are other ways to skin a cat” to limit workers’ power, paycheck deception is “a way to get to the ultimate goal of right to work.”
Patrick Werner of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity also called paycheck deception a “first step” to making Missouri a “right to work state.”