Paycheck Protection Bills Return To The Missouri Legislature
One of Americans’ most fundamental rights is the right to free speech. Unfortunately, that right often is undermined in the area of public employment. Many public employee unions not only collect dues for their representation, but they also collect them for political activity. Generally speaking, the presumption is that the employee supports the union’s politics, even though that’s not always the case.
Shouldn’t unions have to compete for their political dollars and donations like any other interest group? I think so. That’s why “paycheck protection” reforms are so important: they allow employees to opt in to paying for a union’s politics, rather than forcing them to opt out. The presumption, in other words, is that the employee’s political dollars are first and foremost the employee’s, not the union’s. That modest reform would re-balance the power of dues collection in favor of public employees rather than defaulting in favor of public unions.
The good news is that Missouri’s legislature passed a law last year that would have rectified the problem. The bad news is it was vetoed, and that veto wasn’t overridden during the special session.
But the (other) good news? Variations of that legislation are currently circulating in the Missouri House. HB 1093 and HB 1617 address the issue directly, requiring a separate consent form for dues to be collected and used for union political purposes. HB 1093 is particularly good in requiring an accounting of dues to ensure that dues earmarked for representation are not spent on politics. Without that verification mechanism, it would be difficult to determine whether the law is being followed and whether employees’ free speech rights are being upheld.
I will keep an eye on both of these bills; stay tuned.