|JEFFERSON CITY- The Missouri State Senate approved a bill that puts union employees in control of their own paychecks. The "paycheck protection" measure was approved by a veto-proof majority (23-7) late Tuesday night. Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said this bill has been a primary concern for years, and it's long overdue.
"We believe employees have a right and the power to choose what to do with their paychecks," said Richard. "This is about fairness and compassion for all public union employees so they can provide for their families while adding value to their meaningful work."
House Bill 1891, handled by Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, prohibits any public employee from being required to pay dues or other fees to a labor organization. Instead of "opting out," employees will be able to "opt-in." The current out-of-date system requires a public employee to "opt-out" of membership. If they fail to "opt-out" they are automatically forced to allow their dues to be paid for political gain. A public labor organization will also be prohibited from using dues to pay for political campaign contributions or expenditures without written authorization. The measure does exempt firefighters and police union members.
"This measure protects public union employees from losing portions of their take-home pay to unions' political gains," said Brown. "An employee should be able to research his or her employer's causes to see whether he or she supports them before the employer collects money. With this bill, employees won't be forced to support causes and lobbying they do not support."
Majority Floor Leader, Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said this bill will also make public unions more accountable to their employees while protecting employee rights.
"We want to ensure that public union employees are in control of their own hard-earned money," said Kehoe. "We were willing to take the time this week to make sure this important piece of legislation crosses the finish line."
Those who oppose the bill say that this bill is too burdensome on individuals and that it increases government intervention. Opponents argue that this bill is a union buster, and it only limits employees' choices with respect to labor unions, not any other choice for payment or contribution. Opponents further state that the bill is confusing as written, and it would be better to afford employees the opportunity to opt out at anytime, which is the status quo, versus forcing them to opt in annually. Opponents suggested giving employees the ability to e-mail their opposition to deductions rather than making them fill out unnecessary additional paperwork.
The bill will now move to the House for final consideration.