Archive for Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Statehouse Live: Bill before Kansas House would restrict employee groups

February 22, 2011


— As state employees in Wisconsin continue to demonstrate against attempts to remove collective bargaining there, Kansas lawmakers are preparing to debate a bill that would eliminate practices used by organized workers to participate in political campaigns.

Related document

House Bill 2130 ( .PDF )

House Bill 2130 would prohibit any labor organization, professional employee organization or public employee organization to use dues, fees, or any kind of deduction from a member's paycheck for the purpose of engaging in political activities. The bill, which could be debated in the House as early as Wednesday, would also prohibit public employee organizations from endorsing candidates.

The measure is supported by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

In written testimony to the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, Derrick Sontag, Kansas State Director for AFP, said the bill "simply gives union members a choice, a choice to fund or not fund the non-bargaining and administration aspects of their union while still retaining their membership."

The measure is opposed by the Kansas AFL-CIO, Kansas Organization of State Employees, Kansas National Education Association and other labor groups.

Andy Sanchez, executive secretary-treasurer of the Kansas AFL-CIO, said the bill "actively seeks to restrict people from participating in the electoral process by effectively silencing the voice of working people."


booklover2 4 years ago

I always find it interesting that groups like Americans for Prospertiy want to keep the government out of our lives, but when it comes to issues that they don't agree with they want the government to enact laws against them.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

AFP-Kansas is a charitable organization, yet spends the bulk of its contributions on political activities.

I'm guessing Derrick Sontag would have no interest in prohibiting AFP-Kansas from participating in political activities with its "donated" money.

cmmnsnsksn 4 years ago

isn't that the entire point???

the money isn't donated by free will.

KSManimal 4 years ago

The money used for political action IS donated by free will. It is NOT dues money. Anyone who say's otherwise is uninformed, misinformed, or attempting to mislead.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

1 - buy a vowel. 2 - in Kansas, dues are paid by free will.

Don't bring your lies here.

metnom 4 years ago

The religious right is neither.

olddognewtrix 4 years ago

What do you expect from a Koch brothers dominated Republican legiaslature full of Kline and Kobach clones?Federal court here we come!.

meggers 4 years ago

Wouldn't "political activities" include lobbying against cuts in salaries and benefits?

It's no coincidence that the Koch brothers were the second largest contributor to Scott Walker's campaign in Wisconsin, and that Americans for Prosperity (also the Koch brothers) has been busy busing in Tea Party activists to counter the protests in Wisconsin. Follow the money and then tell me who gives a rat's behind about your economic interests (or with regard to the Koch's, the safety of your drinking water, your ability to have a dignified retirement, or even to earn minimum wage).

tolawdjk 4 years ago

I was wondering what this would end up looking like in a right-to-work state.

So you would be able to work for a corporation, and that corporation is granted "person" rights of the constitution...Citizens United allows that corporation to donate politically.

But, if the corporation has a union presence, that union is not a person and not allowed to donate politically. Correction...severely reduced in its ability to gather funds to donate.

Interesting nuiance. I'm sure once it passes and the Supremes weigh in, it will make even less sense.

BigDog 4 years ago

meggers - Does it surprise you that many of those protesting are being bussed in from out of state by union. And that the DNC and those involved in Obama's media campaign for President are helping run and coordinate efforts.

Follow the money and connections there. Point being both sides are doing it.

MyName 4 years ago

Accuse the other side of doing exactly what you're doing, typical BS Karl Rove type response. Are there any bills out there trying to lobby the state to allow collective bargaining in Kansas? If not, then both "sides" are not, in fact, "doing it".

RunCoyote 4 years ago

While corporations and billionaires have been given immense freedom to hide huge contributions to political campaigns, the common people are being more and more restricted by these C of C types. Our country is starting to look more like those in South America, with a few "haves" dominating the "have nots" and a shrinking middle class trying to hang on. Whether our political system can rebalance power under these circumstances remains to be seen, but the present attacks on voting rights by the right wingers makes me nervous.

Keith 4 years ago

So the unions just become employee corporations, and presto, they can do the same things other corporations can do.

newmedia 4 years ago

Union dues should be used to support their members not fund election campaigns! How many members actually want their dues used in this manner. If the unions actually let their members decide, my guess is probably not many.

notanota 4 years ago

Since it's a right to work state, I'm betting that those who think their union uses their fees inappropriately have already left the union.

KSManimal 4 years ago

Union dues - currently - are not used to fund election campaigns. Anyone who says otherwise is either uninformed, misinformed, or attempting to mislead.

What I find interesting is that the party who claims to favor less government intrusion is so eager to use the government to intrude on folks they don't agree with.

It really comes down to a free speech issue. Union members choose how to use their money.

BigDog 4 years ago

Tell me where the public employees union alone got nearly $100 million to spend on the 2010 election if not from union dues.

KSManimal 4 years ago

Do the math, big dog: according to your link, there are 1.6 million members and $87.5 million in campaign spending.

That comes to about $54.69 per member, DONATED for political action.

Have YOU ever donated to a political campaign? Do you want the government to tell you how you can & can't do so?

BigDog 4 years ago

KSManimal .... your numbers assume that everyone gives. And NO I do not donate to political candidates through my workplace.

KSManimal 4 years ago

No, I don't assume everyone gives. I simply calculated the per member amount necessary to reach $87.5 M, in order to show how easily that amount could be raised.

I never asked you if you donated through your workplace. Why do you and your ilk insist that doing so is a big no-no for public employees but not private corporations? Free speech only applies to big business?

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

BigDog, tell me why you spread misinformation? And who pays you to do it? Sounds like this bill needs an amendment to deal with your posts.

BigDog 4 years ago

Misinformation??? .... Maybe you ought to read the Wall Street article .... if you can

"Previously, most labor-sponsored campaign ads had to be funded by volunteer donations. Now, however, AFSCME can pay for ads using annual dues from members, which amount to about $390 per person. AFSCME said it will tap membership dues to pay for $17 million of ads backing Democrats this election. "

kugrad 4 years ago

Actually, many unions have a line on the enrollment form (it may be a legal requirement) that separates the PAC money they are donating from their other dues. Remember that unions must disclose their political activity, so it isn't like their members don't know about it. Besides, electing people who support unions IS supporting their members. That is why they do it.

kugrad 4 years ago

"The measure is supported by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity."

This is why people don't trust government. Two special interest groups with their hands DEEP in the pockets of every Republican in Topeka (and a good many Democrats I'd wager) arrange to get legislation introduced that comes from no need of the people of Kansas, but is simply self-serving.

Let me get this straight, when the corporations that back these two groups spend millions of dollars in secret to influence Kansas elections, it is "Free Speech." Their shareholders will not even know what is being said 'on their behalf.' However, when unions engage in political action with their affiliation clearly indicated and with the full knowledge of their membership it is somehow wrong?

Come on Republicans. You are not fools, nor idiots. Is this really what you want from your elected officials? Do you really think it is fair for the party in power to inhibit the political speech of groups they dislike? Is that American? I don't think so.

Randy Leonard 4 years ago

This country is on the verge of becoming an Oligarchy. I'm afraid that it may be too late given the amount of control that certain individuals and corporations have already. Our democracy may be dead.

Jan Rolls 4 years ago

One dictator gone in Egypt and now two pop up in Kansas and Wisconsin

kugrad 4 years ago

Prediction: When the day comes that people can't take it anymore and rise up against to restore rule by the people, rather than the business class, in this country, the military won't fire on the people. The "government" will contact Blackwater and other providers of mercenaries and they will open fire.

KSManimal 4 years ago

"In written testimony to the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, Derrick Sontag, Kansas State Director for AFP, said the bill "simply gives union members a choice, a choice to fund or not fund the non-bargaining and administration aspects of their union while still retaining their membership."

OK, if for a second anyone believes that AFP is really looking out for the well-being of union members, this is nonetheless an outright LIE. This bill does NOT give union members the choice to fund or not fund portions of their union's operation and still be members.

Right now, union members can CHOOSE to give money to their union's political action committee - this is NOT part of union dues, and it is entirely the member's CHOICE.

What this bill does is PROHIBIT members from donating to their union's pac via payroll deduction. It serve NO LEGITIMATE PURPOSE, and is simply designed to make political activities more difficult for those organizations which the Koch brothers, er, I mean "Americans for Prosperity" don't like.

If it is really about "protecting" people...why not ban payroll deductions for United Way? Or any other payroll deductions?

Notice that the bill also PROHIBITS unions from endorsing political candidates. Why single out unions for this? Why not ban ALL corporations from endorsing candidates? It's a "muzzle the unions" bill. That is all.

nascar 4 years ago

"Union" dues and Political Action Campaign (PAC) contributions are two separate accounts. The Govt. Ethics Commission oversees this is Kansas.

Phillbert 4 years ago

Republicans are all for freedom...the freedom for them and their corporate owners to do anything they want to the "bottom" 99% of Americans.

question4u 4 years ago

Who could be surprised by a bill like this? If there is anything hypocritical, stupid, pointless, xenophobic, self-serving or infantile, someone in the Kansas House will introduce a bill in support of it. The only question is whether the parent/child relationship still holds. Will the Senate keep the foolishness in check as it generally has in the past or let the ignorant little monster run wild?

BigDog 4 years ago

According to Wall Street article the public employees can use union dues for political ads.

"Previously, most labor-sponsored campaign ads had to be funded by volunteer donations. Now, however, AFSCME can pay for ads using annual dues from members, which amount to about $390 per person. AFSCME said it will tap membership dues to pay for $17 million of ads backing Democrats this election."

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

Note how broadly this bill describes "political activities".

Basically, unions will be banned from doing everything that AFP does with its tax-deductible charitable contributions.

So bastardize the definition of charitable contribution in order to buy elections = OK.

Voluntarily join an employee organization then try to do the same = Illegal.

werekoala 4 years ago

Man, the Supreme Court is going to get tired of seeing Kansas...

How is this not a First Ammendment* violation of the rights of the people to free speech/association/assembly for petition of grievances?

Or did I miss the small print: *Applies to billionaires only. Offer not valid in KS, WI, etc...

jafs 4 years ago

If BAA's link is correct, there is a law prohibiting just that.

Civil service employees are prohibited from influencing elections.

Check it out.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Now that the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates in fully equating "money" with "free speech," the Koch brothers want to make sure that only wealthy oligarchs are permitted to speak.

zzgoeb 4 years ago

What a cool idea! Now let's outlaw lobbying, lobbyists and PACs like Americans for Prosperity from spending money and trying to influence our legislature too, then we can get back to the people's business!!!!

BigDog 4 years ago

I wish people would read the actual legislation. The basic summary of the legislation is "required dues" cannot be used for political activities. Members can donate to the union for political activities by personal donations .... but not through payroll deductions. The contributions to the union PAC must be kept seperate from dues contributions to union.

I doubt the requirement to make contributions personally to union political activities and not through payroll deductions will count as a freedom of speech issue.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

No, the basic summary of the bill is what constitutes "political activity," which is not political activity but rather public policy activity. "Voter education," as AFP calls it.

If it is good enough for a tax-exempt organization, why isn't it good enough for an evil union?

labmonkey 4 years ago

As a union member myself, I like this bill. I hate when I get letters in the mail at election time telling me to vote for Democrats, even though almost everyone they endorse support legislation that will kill my industry. Although the union tells me that union dues do not go toward political lobbying and campaigning and it comes only funds from a certain fund you can voluntarily donate to, but I would like transparency. I love my job, and I love actually actually being apart of something where it isn't every man for himself (like many other jobs I have had in the past), but I don't even donate to the candidates I actually vote for, and really do not want to donate to those I would never vote for in a million years.

William Weissbeck 4 years ago

Damn, that well water out in western Kansas must be loaded with more and more (mind altering) chemicals. I left the state in '85, and the state is just getting nuttier and nuttier. Just like the 413 "illegals" you want to keep out of college, the GOP wants to curb the 1,000 or so that still belong to a union. Will somebody please remind the GO(ons)P that Kansas is the home of William Allen White.

jafs 4 years ago

Got it - you're anti-labor and anti-education.

nytemayr 4 years ago

The working people voted the Tea Party into office to do this. So what is the problem? What do ya'll need collective bargainiing for anyway?????????

If ya'll don't like the employer then ya'll can go get another job ......right!!!

William Weissbeck 4 years ago

Jobs? Where? You must be saying that in times of high unemployment (the new normal) that workers should be treated like cattle. While the employer increases his profit, the employee is to just be grateful that he has a job. You must have been a coal miner in a former life. Or perhaps you identify with the villains in Dickens' novels.

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