Archive for Friday, March 18, 2011

Supporters concede Kansas union PACs bill stuck in senate committee

March 18, 2011


— Some supporters conceded Friday that the Kansas Legislature isn't likely to pass a proposal this year to prohibit public employee unions from automatically deducting money from members' paychecks to finance political activities.

The measure has already been approved by the House but has inspired strong opposition from labor organizations, who believe it's designed to lessen their influence. Supporters say it protects workers from having money deducted for activities they don't support.

The bill is before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, but the panel had its last scheduled meeting of the year Thursday. Lawmakers don't expect to adjourn their annual session until early May, but their deadlines required most committees to finish their work this week.

"Every bill we have in committee will be in committee for consideration next year," said Chairwoman Terrie Huntington, a Fairway Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, said he's heard no talk among Senate leaders about pushing Huntington to hold an extra meeting to deal with the bill yet this year because legislators must concentrate on closing the state's projected $493 million budget shortfall.

Rep. Anthony Brown, a Eudora Republican who is chairman of the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee and a strong supporter of the bill, said he'll work with Huntington over the next couple of months to help smooth the way for passage next year.

Derrick Sontag, state director of the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity, which backs the bill, said: "They ran out of time, but it was a good discussion to have."

The House approved the bill last month amid heated protests, though its version went further, also imposing the ban on private-sector unions.

Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, took the unusual step of referring the bill both to Huntington's committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. He said Friday he did so because it touched on subjects covered by both committees.

The Commerce Committee this week rewrote the bill to allow private-sector unions to continue making paycheck deductions, but requiring them to get each member's permission in writing each year. Some backers said the distinction between private-sector and public employee unions is justified because, with public employee groups, government agencies are involved in the deductions as they handle payrolls.

Private-sector unions didn't see the change as much of a concession and still strongly oppose the bill. Public employee groups believe they're being singled out.

"This is a blatant attempt to simply silence opposition to the corporate agenda," said Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the Kansas-National Education Association teachers union. "Workers should have a voice."

The Commerce Committee endorsed the bill Tuesday, holding its hearing and its vote in the same hour to get the measure to the Ethics and Elections Committee more quickly. But Huntington's committee already had a full calendar for its remaining meetings.

Sen. Tom Holland, of Baldwin City, the ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee and a strong opponent of the bill, said, "That's good news."

Commerce Committee Chairwoman Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, isn't giving up on trying to pass the measure this year. One option is to persuade House and Senate negotiators working on a bill on a related topic to add the proposal to their legislation and bring such a package to the Senate for an up-or-down vote.

But Brown said such an approach "seems to be a far stretch."

"Obviously, I would have liked to have had the bill passed this year, but it still remains alive," he said.


Crazy_Larry 7 years, 3 months ago

And this will help the State of Kansas, how? What's the issue? Who's crying out for this change? Not much detail in the article...nothing noting the pros and cons. Do they actually believe citizens don't realize that money's being electronically transferred from their paycheck? This is, as someone already pointed out, "a blatant attempt to simply silence opposition to the corporate agenda." Republcrackhead's are trying to weaken the opposition and establish a permanent majority. Wake up, meatheads! How's the oligarchy working out for you?

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

The fact is that union members can still easily donate money to the unions by writing a check each month.

All this change will do is remove the automatic debiting feature.

Crazy_Larry 7 years, 3 months ago

"All this change will do is remove the automatic debiting feature."


cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

"Workers should have a voice."

They have a voice. What many of them want is a choice.

Crazy_Larry 7 years, 3 months ago

I've worked for State government for 10 years...I've yet to hear a fellow employee complain that they'd like to stop their electronic deduction. Noone would allow money to be taken out of their paycheck without their knowledge and permission. We have a choice, but the Republiroosters think that's not the case. They can't fathom the idea of state workers voluntarily having monies deducted electronically to support the union.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 3 months ago

Corporate employee PACs yes, Unions no.

Employee deductions voluntarily placed into a fund for corporations to spend on candidates and make endorsements are OK.

Employee deductions voluntarily placed into a fund for unions to spend on candidates and make endorsements should be illegal.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

"Employee deductions voluntarily placed into a fund for unions to spend on candidates and make endorsements...."

If you believe that a system of automatic deductions from union members' paychecks is strictly "voluntary," then you know nothing about labor relations.

You probably also believe that union "card check" proposals would result in votes being freely cast in union organizational elections.

Try learning about this subject. Perhaps you could start by quitting your job at McDonald's and getting a college degree. After that you might even be able to attend law school.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

You obviously know very little as well, Cato. In Kansas you cannot be coerced into joining a union, so all deductions are voluntary. A teacher with whom I used to work, was the president of her local. She taught me a lot about how KNEA works. There is a KPAC, Kansas Political Action Committee that comes out of the members dues which can be refunded to any member who does not agree on KPAC's work. If the teachers wish to donate to the national PAC, they have to write a check and send it there. KNEA isn't allowed to deduct those donations.

Much of the KPAC money goes to paying for their lobbyist in Topeka and interviewing candidates to determine whether or not they favor public education. Then they recommend which candidates most support public education, which often means Democrats, simply because Republicans prefer private school vouchers. I mean would NRA be stupid enough to endorse a candidate who favored gun control? They do not coerce their members into voting for that candidate, because they don't believe teachers are stupid enough to be one issue voters.

Those of you who think union dues are used for political reasons, don't understand the accounting that must be done to continue to run a PAC. Yes, perhaps some unions have been caught doing it, but they have been caught. The KNEA dues are used for workshops, and not just workshops for negotiations. There are workshops for improving teaching skills, such as, classroom management, preparing for the first day of class, etc. I even attended a workshop they sponsored for paras. They have retirement seminars and provide liability insurance for teachers. I'm real sure the dues barely cover all the things they do, so there isn't a lot of money left over for PACs anyway.

But, get it through your head, Cato. In Kansas it is voluntary to join. And if you want to join, you can pay dues in a lump sum, or you can opt for a deduction to make your life simpler. I repeat, in Kansas joining a union is voluntary. Repeat that after me, Cato. Sometimes repetition is needed to learn something. In a job, at university, or in everyday life. Why not start reading and watching many different things instead of those that are only Beck or Fox approved? You might learn about how things really work, and come out of your strange fantasy world of wonderful, benevolent corporations, who are just working to make things better in the world.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

"Those of you who think union dues are used for political reasons, don't understand the accounting that must be done to continue to run a PAC."

Tomato, that pretty much says it all. If you're that naive, you're probably past hope on this subject. The legislation specifically deals with prohibiting public employee unions from automatically deducting money from members' paychecks to finance political activities. Just as in Wisconsin, there are actually folks in Kansas who don't want any part of their union dues used for partisan political activities. If you don't know this, then, just like Captain_Kangaroo, you have no understanding of labor relations.

However, I would pose this to you: If what you describe is as "voluntary" as you say, then why are labor organizations fighting this so vigorously? Is it possible that public union bosses know that the real choice that this legislation will provide might have an impact on their own fiefdoms and their own political influence, as is certainly the case in Wisconsin? It's not rocket science, Tomato. Ponder it for awhile. You might even see the light.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 3 months ago

Lester_the_Maddox again proving he is absolutely clueless.

Get this -- an employee of AT&T would be free as a bird to have a paycheck deduction for the AT&T PAC and let his bosses direct all the money, but not to have a deduction for the Communications Workers of America where his co-workers direct the money. Yeah, that's fair.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

I no more favor the AT&T hypothetical you pose than I do current public union practices in that regard. They are both at heart coercive. By way of further comment, I am particularly opposed to "requests" made to employees to donate to the United Way, for example, so that the local fund drive, of which the plant manager is chairman, can meet its publicly-announced goal.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

And yes, my last paragraph was meant to be insulting, Cato. It just mirrored your petty MacDonald's swipe at BobK. I wouldn't want to be a waitress for you. Your statement has proven what you think of working class people. Many people who are such snobs to people who work for a living are usually either trust fund babies, or are just peons themselves, trying to prop up their egos. Which one are you Cato? Why do you snub people who work for a living?

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

Tomato, I work very hard for a living, and have nothing but respect for those of my fellow citizens who do the same. I have very little respect for those who don't, which may account for some of the views I've expressed on this forum from time to time. Your invidious prejudice against those of your fellow citizens who, simply because they disagree with you, somehow then become "trust fund babies or peons" displays enormous prejudice, hostility, hatred and jealousy. I am neither a "trust fund baby" nor a "peon," but I've known plenty of political liberals who were in fact beneficiaries of sizeable trust funds.

By the way, I have never once in my adult life failed to give my server a tip (Tomato, the word "waitress" is way out of date), and I often tip considerably more than is expected. In fact, that's one of the more interesting things I've observed over the years: Conservatives are almost always much more generous tippers than liberals are, and also tend to treat those who are serving them much better than liberals do. If you were ever to have served my table when I'm picking up the tab, you would agree.

dpowers 7 years, 3 months ago

I am in a public union, Cato, and yes, I do have a choice. What tomato grower says is correct.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

You must hold the office of Minister of Propaganda.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

True that. I do see a few punctuation and grammatical errors in my response. I'm sure he is now busy with his little grammar book.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

Tomato, I tend to point out such things when I'm dealing with pseudo-intellectual liberals whose understanding of the English language and its usage does not equal their self-professed brilliance.

I would never place you in that category.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Blind Government loyalty is NOT patriotic!

Questioning government authority daily is patriotic!

Blind government loyalty is dangerous to OUR democracy, OUR quality of life and OUR tax dollars!

Don't get duped again!

Beware of what this will do to Kansas..... read it carefully

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 3 months ago

Turns out Lester_the_Maddox is opposed to all payroll deductions.

As such, he should understand why the " labor organizations fighting this so vigorously," it is because only deductions for labor organizations are being targeted.

He can't see that because he is blinded by his ideological slant against unions.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 3 months ago

Turns out Captain_Kangaroo thinks the reason that labor organizations are fighting this legislation so vigorously is because only deductions for public employee labor organizations are being targeted. Thus, he must believe that those same labor organizations wouldn't fight this if all similar payroll deductions were targeted.

What a laugher. Move over, Tomato - Mr. Greenjeans' best pal has once again demonstrated that he's as naive about labor relations and public employee labor unions as you are.

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