The state legislature has sent Governor Jay Nixon (D) a bill supporters call “paycheck protection” and opponents call “paycheck deception.” The bill would block deduction of union dues from public employees’ pay without their annual permission.
The House voted Thursday 109-49, which sent the legislation to Nixon. If the House and Senate votes stand, there is enough support in both chambers to override a veto by Nixon, which is expected. He vetoed a similar bill in 2013.
The bill has passed early enough for the legislature to attempt a veto override before the session ends in mid-May.
Those who oppose the bill, like Representative Jon Carpenter (D-Kansas City), say the bill wouldn’t just affect public employee unions.
“This is a new mandate for virtually every union that operates in the State of Missouri who currently does not have to do this. They will have to create a new, dual system – one for their private employees and one for their public employees,” said Carpenter.
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) disputes Democrats’ arguments that the bill isn’t clear.
“There’s no way that you can read sections one and two (of the bill) as applying to private members of labor organizations,” said Richardson.
Carpenter repeats his argument that the bill is another step toward making Missouri a right-to-work state.
“The former speaker of this body has said publicly that this is, quote, ‘A way to get to the ultimate goal of right-to-work.’ That was the stated purpose of this piece of legislation,” said Carpenter, referring to a comment by former Speaker Tim Jones.
Richardson said that’s not true.
“I’m going to tell you what the current speaker says about this bill. This bill has nothing to do with right-to-work,” said Richardson. “It’s never going to be used by a court to get a foothold to getting right-to-work. Right-to-work is a separate and distinct policy discussion.”
Nixon in his veto message on the 2013 bill said it targeted a single group of employees and imposed on them an “unnecessary and cumbersome process.”
He noted that there are other things about which employees can make a one-time decisions whether those would be deducted from pay – money for college savings accounts; deferred compensation; and 401(k) plans. He wrote, “In each of these instances the withholdings are based on one-time authorizations that the employee clearly has the authority to revoke at any time. Employees are not required to take additional steps to cause such withholdings to continue in subsequent years … the bill places unnecessary burdens on public employees for the purpose of weakening labor organizations.”
HOW THEY VOTED: Missouri House sends paycheck union dues bill to Governor Nixon