By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS – If you’re a union member, the Missouri General Assembly wants to help keep politicians’ hands out of your wallet.
Both the Missouri House and Senate OK’ed bills this week that would allow union members to opt out of their dues being used for election campaigns.
Republican Rep. Eric Burlison’s so-called “paycheck protection” bill passed the House Wednesday by a 90-65 vote. His legislation, House Bill 64, would require labor groups to receive annual authorization from members before using their dues for political purposes.
The Senate passed a companion bill on Tuesday after an eight-hour Democratic filibuster forced an amendment that only allows deductions with the annual consent of employees, matching the House bill.
“The bill simply gives workers more control over how their money is spent, and makes unions more accountable to their members,” said Burlison, of Springfield. “We have seen too many examples of unions using the dues they collect to support political agendas that run contrary to those supported by their members.”
Such states as Michigan, Ohio and Washington already have similar laws.
Burlison’s bill will move through the Senate, while Senate Bill 29, from Rolla Republican Dan Brown, goes to the House.
Both are likely to pass the Republican-dominated bodies, but could face a veto from Democratic and pro-union Gov. Jay Nixon.
Democratic Rep. Kevin McManus, of Kansas City, called Burlison’s bill an attack on unions.
“Why are we regulating one group in particular in their speech?” he asked during floor debate. “Is it because the people supporting this bill don’t like what they have to say?”
Burlison’s bill initially exempted such groups as firefighters and police officers, but he amended it after recent reports that Kansas City police officers were forced to join the Fraternal Order of Police.
Unions are taking a beating this legislative session.
The General Assembly also is considering a measure that would make Missouri a right-to-work state, meaning that union membership cannot be required as a condition of employment.
Lawmakers have passed right-to-work bills before, but Nixon vetoed them. The most recent proposal would skip his John Hancock and go straight to Missouri voters, who would vote the law up or down in November.
Burlison introduced that one too. There’s been no activity on it since last month’s standing-room-only public hearing.