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Curtis presents bill to cut union exemption for lobbying

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Democrat presented a decidedly anti-union piece of legislation to the House Workforce Standards and Development Committee Thursday.

Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis’, D-St. Louis, HB 2276 would remove exemptions for labor unions and their members to the lobbyist registration requirements. The bill would essentially force union workers, members and leadership to register as lobbyists; lobbyists hired by unions specifically to serve as lobbyists must already register.

Curtis argues his bill will remove what he calls the “undue influence” of labor unions in the Capitol.

“I’m on a labor accountability kick,” he said. “This bill serves as one more tool in the toolbox that will allow us to remove all unflattering perceptions from the General Assembly.

However, union members, including many members of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists who came to testify, decried the legislation because it meant that individual workers would no longer have a right to speak out on issues that matter to them as citizens.

“When we come up here to talk to you all we come up here as union members, as citizens,” said Natasha Pickens, a member of the Communications Workers of America. “We’re not coming up here as an organization.”

Curtis’ complicated history with unions and Democratic House leadership, including Minority Chair Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, (who is also a member of AFL-CIO leadership) may indeed have bled into the hearing. Curtis made fairly pointed remarks about Hummel’s relationship with unions.

“Our job in the legislature is one where everyone should have an equal voice, and actually having an executive member in an executive position in the general assembly doesn’t create the perception that everyone has an equal voice,” he testified. “There’s a lot of undue influence that sits with an individual in an executive capacity.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Curtis got into a physical altercation with Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, over Curtis’ anti-union stances.