JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — So-called “paycheck protection” legislation that would be placed on the 2014 ballot, if approved, was heard in a senate committee today, marking another step in the fight between labor leaders and conservative Republicans.
Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, presented her bill before the senate. Upon voter approval, Rehder’s bill would require certain labor unions to seek annual authorization for fees related to political activity. Currently, individuals may opt-out of contributing money to a union’s political action fund. Rehder’s bill would change that to an opt-in system, requiring willing participants to annually reauthorize the union to collect their fees.
“Under current law right now, if I’m a public employee union and I see something in the mail my union did that I don’t like, I don’t have to wait 12 months, I can send in a letter right now and opt-out right now,” said Mike Louis, Secretary Treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO.
Rehder and proponents of her bill argue that unions bully, intimidate or otherwise force members to contribute to political actions they may not necessarily agree with. Opponents counter that employees may opt-out at any time and that the bill is likely a politically motivated attempt to weaken typically Democrat-leaning unions.
The hearing, which was scheduled last minute, also did not permit the recording of video or taking of pictures. ProgressMissouri, a liberal organization, requested permission to record the meeting last night, but Chairman Mike Parson, R-Polk County, denied a ProgressMissouri representative from recording the hearing.
Rehder did not have any testimony in support for her legislation, while labor leaders rolled out representatives from SEIU, AFL-CIO and the Missouri NEA, among others. A paycheck bill vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon failed to override last year in the senate when two Republican senators changed their votes and rejected the measure.
The committee did not vote on the bill.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.