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Paycheck Protection (nay, Paycheck Deception) Creeps Toward MO Gov’s Desk Again

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A Missouri House Subcommittee signed off on “paycheck protection” last week, which would single out certain unions and force members to give written permission for dues deduction. Those unions likely to be exempt from the bill include police, firefighters, and first responders.  

Labor supporters and union members call the bill by a different name: “paycheck deception.” They say it seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.  As Clark Brown of the Missouri State Council of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) told the Kansas City Star, “Republicans want to carve out a part of labor, put heavy burdensome regulations on them and hope they have a dramatic loss of membership that ultimately destroys them.”

Republican Rep. Holly Rehder, who is sponsoring a version of the bill, said she believes the legislation is necessary. She relies on the common right-wing talking point of “choice,” saying: “This is about giving individual employees a choice.  No one should have to give money to an agenda they don’t support.”

Rehder disagrees with the exemption of certain unions. “I think everyone should be included,” she said.

Republican Rep. Bill Lant, also supporting a version of the bill, agreed. “If I had my preference it would cover all public employees,” he told the Kansas City Star.

The carve out for fire and police is a result of frequent Republican support by those unions. But two years ago, when a similar “paycheck protection” bill made it to the desk of Governor Jay Nixon, he vetoed it partially due to the exemption for firefighters and police officers.  At the time Nixon noted that treating some public sector employees differently than others for no compelling reason would be unconstitutional.  Missouri Republicans could not garner enough support for an override of the veto.

Rep. Stephen Webber, a Democrat, said the bill “is about putting burdensome regulations on groups that the Republican Party doesn’t want to hear speak out.” It is difficult to mount a counterargument to this considering the near ubiquity of the labor union-Democrat alliance.

Crystal Parks, a service representative and member of the Communication Workers of America, told the Missouri Times that the bills would “unfairly single out” nurses and teachers:

“Paycheck deception bills are promoted by ALEC and the Koch brothers all over the country.  Some extreme and out-of-touch Missouri politicians are working with these billionaires and their front groups against Missouri families. These laws would unfairly single out folks like nurses and teachers and other public workers. We need our leaders to focus on creating jobs, not more attacks on workers.”

In a statement, Jeff Mazur, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 72, blasted the proposed legislation and framed the matter in terms of cold hard quality of life:

“Any so-called right-to-work or ‘paycheck protection’ measure is simply bad policy.  The measure of a state’s prosperity and competitiveness is not the rate at which it can attract low-paying jobs from companies looking to turn a profit on the back of a cheap labor force, but how it can maintain a high standard of living and productivity. Look at states where there are strong unions, and that is what you will find.”


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