February 9, 2016

House includes ‘right-to-work for cops’ in public safety bill

A House bill including more than 20 provisions related to public safety includes a proposal to make it illegal for union dues payment to be a condition of employment for law enforcement in the state.

Representative Rick Brattin (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Rick Brattin (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Called “right to work for cops” on the floor by an opponent, the language was offered in an amendment by Representative Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), who says it will protect officers.

“This just gives them the protection that our firefighters, our ambulance [drivers] and every other state employee has the right to choose to belong to any organization they want and pay into any organization that they so choose or opt out of choosing.”

Representative Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart), a former police officer, says because police unions negotiate for issues including workplace safety, this could result in unsafe conditions for some of the state’s law enforcement officers.

“This amendment places your cops in harm’s way, it pulls away their ability to have any impact over their workplace safety, over their benefits, their horrible benefits … we’re one of the lowest paid states in the nation when it comes to how we compensate our law enforcement officers, and one of the most deadly states in the nation.”

House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says the idea was brought to his caucus by police officers from Kansas City.

“I met with them, men and women on that police force of all different, diverse backgrounds, and they asked us to move that piece of legislation forward … They said they were being disenfranchised, their voices were not being heard, they had no choice in the matter and so these are folks who are rank-and-file union members who have asked us to promote worker freedom.”

That omnibus package, HB 335, has been sent to the Senate.