Mar 14, 2013
The Missouri House and Senate this week approved separate bills that would severely restrict the way unions can collect and spend dues.
The House endorsed a measure that would require unions to seek written consent from members each year to spend dues on political activity. The Senate voted to require public employee unions to seek annual consent before they automatically deduct dues from their members' paychecks.
"The Senate one is scarier because if it becomes law, every public sector union would cease to be a union," said CWA Local 6355 President Bradley Harmon. "They would have zero members on January 1. Workers would have to sign authorization cards and keep signing authorization card every year after that."
But neither bill covers all unions in the state. First responders, policemen and firefighters' unions — whose membership is more likely to vote Republican — have been exempted.
The legislature goes on Spring Break today, and CWA activists are gearing up to start canvassing Senate districts and supporting House Republicans who voted against the paycheck deception bill.
In an editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ridiculed the legislation, writing, "Missouri Senate blames unions for economic woes. Oh, please."
For those of you wondering who could possibly be blamed for the moribund economy all of us in Missouri and the nation suffered through in recent years, worry not.
The Missouri Senate has found the culprit. It's public employees.
It's those absurdly high-paid teachers, nurses, janitors, secretaries, pothole fixers and home health care workers.
Early Tuesday morning, while some of those workers were helping roll over your grandma or grandpa at the nursing home so they didn't get bed sores, the Republicans who lead the state Senate set things right. They gave initial approval to a bill that will make it a little harder for the unions that represent those public employees to collect [dues] that might be used to elect thoughtful people to elected office.
It's not like those unions have been very successful. Missouri state workers are the lowest paid in the nation. Union membership has been declining. The candidates the unions generally oppose, Republicans, hold overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate.
But because union-bashing has become a big-money deal on the national scene (thanks to Wisconsin and Michigan), the lemmings in the Missouri Senate don't want to be left behind. They're doing the bidding of their corporate overlords in the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes cookie-cutter legislation written by corporate lawyers to enhance their bottom lines.
Progress Missouri recently leaked audio from a strategy session between national conservative groups and GOP lawmakers. Their discussion covers "big money" coming into Missouri to finance anti-worker campaigns, threats to Republican lawmakers who don't support the groups' anti-worker agenda and strategies for conducting public opinion research to help hoodwink Missouri voters into supporting policies designed explicitly to undermine the middle class.
"It's very much part of a national campaign to undermine workers and our organizations," Harmon said.