The state Senate could take up a controversial labor bill again today after debating the measure Tuesday night for about six hours. The legislation would require public employees to give annual approval before union dues can be withdrawn from their pay. Republicans say it’s a pro-worker proposal and all public employees have a right to know what political efforts their union is participating in.

Sen. Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis) photo courtesy of Missouri House Communications

Sen. Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), say the proposal aims to weaken Missouri’s unions.

“When we’re here attacking our state troopers, and our police and our firemen, the people that try to keep us safe on a daily basis, I think that’s wrong,” says Hummel.

The legislation would also make unions certify as the exclusive bargaining representation of its workers through a secret ballot election, and can only be certified if 30% of members agree. Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors) says the measure is a burden on workers.

“My math is you’re doing an election every two days for two years and then you start over again,” says Walsh. “It’s just another way to tie the hands of the folks that represent the people in this state. Why play games? Why not just say okay that’s it. It’s over. You’re done. Everybody is going to make $9 an hour for the rest of your life and be done with it.”

The proposal also requires unions to put many financial records in an electronic version for their workers.

Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors)

Changes to labor laws is a major focus this legislative session of the GOP-controlled General Assembly. A Right-to-Work measure passed earlier this session that bars mandatory union fees in the workplace.

The controversial labor bill currently being considered by state Senators has good timing. Next week is spring break for the Missouri legislature. A week off would give opponents time to cool off if Republicans decide to shut down a potential filibuster and force a vote through use of a controversial procedural motion known as the previous question.