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Archive for Tuesday, March 19, 2013

House approves ban on union pay deductions

March 19, 2013

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  • A bill barring public employee unions in Kansas from deducting money from members’ paychecks to help finance political activities cleared the Republican-dominated Legislature on Tuesday.

    The House voted 68-54 in favor of the measure, and it now goes to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, who’s expected to sign it. The Senate approved an identical version last week after supporters narrowed the bill’s scope to address concerns that the legislation violated free speech rights.

    The bill’s passage was a political victory for conservative Republican legislators and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. They failed to push it through the Legislature in 2011, despite large GOP majorities and Brownback taking office as governor, because of a split among GOP senators including some who lost their seats last year.

    Supporters of the bill argue that state and local government agencies processing payrolls shouldn’t be entangled in transactions that divert money to political action committees. Supporters also contend the change will protect public employee union members from having part of their pay funneled to candidates or causes they oppose.

    “It gives members of public sector unions a choice in whether they want to contribute to the political actions of these organizations,” said Eric Stafford, a Kansas Chamber lobbyist.

    ‘Under siege’

    Opponents of the bill note that union members generally must agree to paycheck deductions beforehand. Kansas also has been a right-to-work state since the late 1950s, meaning workers must opt into unions and cannot be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

    “This is the Legislature trying to tell employees and employers what they can and cannot do with what is the employees’ money ultimately,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. “I just don’t think we have any business inserting ourselves into something like that.”

    Critics see the bill as an attempt to weaken the political influence of public employee unions by making it less convenient for them to contribute to political causes. Such unions strongly support Democrats and are vocal critics of Brownback.

    Another bill pending before the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee would narrow the scope of contract negotiations between teachers’ unions and local school boards. In addition, Brownback’s administration and some GOP House members have renewed a push to mandate a 401(k)-style pension plan for new teachers and government workers, despite an overhaul last year aimed at bolstering the long-term financial health of the state retirement system.

    The House vote on the paycheck bill came only hours after Heather Ousley, a Merriam mother, finished a three-day, 60-mile walk from her home to the Statehouse to protest what she sees as attacks on teachers and public education.

    Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the 25,000-member Kansas National Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, said public employee groups are “under siege.” He said the bill singles out public employee unions for special restrictions.

    “The bill is there because we disagreed with the Chamber and the governor, and we need to be silenced,” Desetti said. “Go after us, but you’re not shutting us up.”

    Unions became more suspicious in January when Stafford, answering questions during a hearing by the commerce committee, snapped, “I need this bill passed so we can get rid of public sector unions.” Stafford later acknowledged he lost his cool and apologized, saying supporters of the bill have no such goal.

    Also, when the House passed a version of the bill in January, it defined political activities broadly enough that critics said it could prevent unions from testifying before the Legislature about worker safety or hinder communications between a union and its members.

    Rep. Marvin Kleeb, who is chairman of the commerce committee, said that was never the intent, and the Senate rewrote the bill before passing it last week. The House’s vote Tuesday was to accept the Senate’s changes.

    Kleeb, an Overland Park Republican, said union members will still be able to write checks or give money individually to PACs but, “The point is to protect individual rights.”

    Comments

    IKU57 1 year, 1 month ago

    What's Illinois doing to the government people made promises to but, can't afford?

    SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois House today approved a major change in the state pension system that could save an estimated $100 billion by cutting down the exponential growth of automatic cost-of-living increases for retiree paychecks.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-illinois-house-approves-major-pension-reform-bill-20130321,0,3792169.story

    0

    Pork_Ribs 1 year, 1 month ago

    Can you have this done at any other job? No. Why is this any different? Either way...this will save administration dollars. For the unions and Kansas tax payers.

    0

    bballwizard 1 year, 1 month ago

    Reality Check 79. Don't worry your job of being a "narrow minded self loathing wish I had tried harder in school jerk" is safe for the next twenty years

    4

    reality_check79 1 year, 1 month ago

    I wish the union protected my job for the last 20 years... I mean teachers have watched the US drop out of the top 15 in math and science... Seems to me that a FEW teachers should be fired... DO YOUR JOB OR LOSE IT!!! It is what the rest of the country does everyday... with no summers off!!!

    0

    Katara 1 year, 1 month ago

    This law will be struck down.

    SCOTUS already decided on this.

    Further, not only do we have CWA v. Beck for this but also a specific case directed to public employees.

    " In 1991 the Supreme Court in Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, expanded the scope of the Beck holdings to include public sector employees so that such employees may not be compelled to subsidize political or ideological activities of public employee unions." http://congressionalresearch.com/97-618/document.php

    2

    oletimer 1 year, 1 month ago

    just another day of brownyback and his clowns destroying Kansas and all it used to stand for. He is a real good reason why people need to get off their *ss and vote. a small minority of anti-abortion radicals got him in. he did not win a majority. just enough to get in and pay back all his "friends".

    2

    goodcitizen 1 year, 1 month ago

    As teacher of 10+ years I can say that I have never felt co-erced into having my union dues taken out of my paycheck, but I DEFINITELY have felt pressured to give to United Way. Please legislature protect me from that too as I have more disagreements with the way United Way is run than I do with the candidates endorsed by KNEA. Now I have to sign up for direct payment from my checking account to pay my (actually association not union) dues--actually I already did but it was annoying that I had to take the time, paperwork, and stamp to do it.

    4

    weeslicket 1 year, 1 month ago

    and these bits from HB 2022:

    (c) {(d)} (1) "Partisan or political purposes" means an act done with the intent or in a way to influence or tend to influence, directly or indirectly, any person to refrain from voting or to vote for or against any candidate for public office at any caucus, political convention, primary, or election.

    (b) It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employer or its designated representative willfully to: (2) dominate, interfere or assist in the formation, existence, or administration of any employee organization;

    (c) It shall be a prohibited practice for public employees or employee organizations willfully to: (2) interfere with, restrain or coerce a public employer with respect to management rights granted in K.S.A. 75-4326, and amendments thereto, or with respect to selecting a representative for the purposes of meeting and conferring or the adjustment of grievances;

    (d) (1) It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, spend any of its income, directly or indirectly, for partisan or political purposes or engage in any kind of activity advocating or opposing the election of candidates for any public office. (2) For the purposes of this section, "partisan or political purposes" means an act done with the intent or in a way to influence or tend to influence, directly or indirectly, any person to refrain from voting or to vote for or against any candidate for public office at any caucus, political conventions{convention}, primary or election.

    1

    weeslicket 1 year, 1 month ago

    payroll deductions are a smoke screen for some really nasty violations of 1st amendment rights. here are some excellent examples of free speech being limited in HB 2023:

    (c) For the purposes of this section, "political activities" means any activity carried out for the purpose of influencing, in whole or part, any election for a state, local government or board of education office, including activities or causes of a partisan political or ideological nature engaged in by a public employee organization for such purpose, and including contributions to a political committee, continuing political employee committee, or both, for the purpose of aiding or promoting the endorsement, nomination, election or defeat of a candidate for public office of the state or of a county, municipality or school district, or the passage or defeat of any public question.

    (d) (1) It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income, directly or indirectly, for partisan or political purposes or engage in any kind of activity advocating or opposing the election of candidates for any public officeincluding any income in the form of or derived from any dues, fees, assessments or any other periodic payments, directly or indirectly, to engage in political activities as defined in paragraph (2). (2) For the purposes of this section, "political activities" means any activity carried out for the purpose of influencing, in whole or part, any election for a state, local government or board of education office, including activities or causes of a partisan political or ideological nature engaged in by a public employee organization for such purpose, and including contributions to a political committee, continuing political employee committee, or both, for the purpose of aiding or promoting the endorsement, nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for public office of the state or of a county, municipality or school district, or the passage or defeat of any public question.

    1

    Cait McKnelly 1 year, 1 month ago

    Given that all of these deductions were "opt in" deductions and not "opt out", just how does the state think this will legally stand up in court?

    4

    George_Braziller 1 year, 1 month ago

    The focus was on eliminating voluntary deductions for the teacher's union, but not all state employees are teachers. There's also the firefighter's union, carpenter's union, plumber's union, electrician's union . . .

    2

    1southernjayhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

    Bozo, I could spend minutes giving you several reasons but the fact is, I'm not going to change your mind or probably anyone else's on this forum and I'm not going to take the time to engage in debate. Let's just say that if you are opposed to this move by the legislature, that in and of itself is enough for me to be for it.

    1

    ibroke 1 year, 1 month ago

    i really dont see what there is to complain about people!

    2

    KSManimal 1 year, 1 month ago

    Since the legislature is obviously concerned about people's money being deducted and then used for political purposes against their will (and this, clearly, has nothing whatsoever to do with union-busting)......then I'm sure we will also see bills to ban payroll deduction for health insurance, life insurance, salary protection insurance, financial investments, and yes even for the United Way.

    All of those entities use money for political purposes....and the employee who has such money deducted has ZERO say in what, specifically, that money goes to. Hence, we shall see the right wing Kansas GOP machine prohibit payroll deduction to those entities in the name of protecting employee paychecks.

    Right? No?

    Oh, I see. We only protect employees from deductions that might support Democrats or other pro-education candidates and issues. How silly of me.

    6

    Glenn Reed 1 year, 1 month ago

    For everyone proclaiming some victory for "individual rights," stop. Its just not an intellectually honest position to take on this issue.

    This is just about finding a less overt way to quiet potential opposition from state employees.

    5

    William Weissbeck 1 year, 1 month ago

    All hail greater Brownbackistan. My only gripes are that the Kochs are too cheap to pay for beautiful billboards proclaiming how great things are under our beloved leadership, and Brownbackistan is falling behind Iran and North Korea in plans to send rockets to the moon.

    4

    JohnBrown 1 year, 1 month ago

    The main purpose of this bill is to shut down any organized opposition to the people who voted for it.

    The courts have decided that donating money to PACs is 'free speech'; so the so-called republicans in the House have voted to deny these teachers their free speech.

    Big government at its worst.

    JohnBrown

    11

    OonlyBonly 1 year, 1 month ago

    Baldertrash ".... Legislature trying to tell employees and employers what they can and cannot do with what is the employees’ money ultimately,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis," No, Mr. Davis, this is the Legislature telling employees THEY have the right to choose what is done with their money. To donate to whichever political candidate or party the Union chooses to to donate to the employee's choice.

    1

    Karl_Hungus 1 year, 1 month ago

    “I need this bill passed so we can get rid of public sector unions.” -Eric Stafford

    Holy cat poop, one of them told a truth....now that is news!!!

    0

    just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 1 month ago

    Unequal treatment under the law is unconstitutional. If voluntary payroll deductions are to be outlawed for public employees and their unions, they need to be outlawed for all other purposes. But that's why this legislature is also attempting to take measures to stack the courts with ideologues who have similar hypocritical double standards.

    11

    just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 1 month ago

    “It gives members of public sector unions a choice in whether they want to contribute to the political actions of these organizations,” said Eric Stafford, a Kansas Chamber lobbyist.


    They already had that choice, Eric.


    Unions became more suspicious in January when Stafford, answering questions during a hearing by the commerce committee, snapped, “I need this bill passed so we can get rid of public sector unions.” Stafford later acknowledged he lost his cool and apologized, saying supporters of the bill have no such goal.


    You're a complete jerk, Eric, but at least with your first statement, you were an honest jerk.

    9

    newmedia 1 year, 1 month ago

    It will be interesting to watch the amount of union donations to local democrats in the next election cycle. Will it be more, less, or about the same as last year? Guess we will find out then if any politician will actually be effected by this change.

    0

    Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 1 month ago

    This is a huge step in the right direction.

    3

    arch007bak 1 year, 1 month ago

    I don't know if this particular bill does or if the one regarding 401(k) does either but I'm curious about something. There is another issue being discussed regarding classified employees. On that one, certain public employees are exempted from the proposed new system - namely "public safety" employees which I guess means the KHP among others.

    Why is it that some here are so quick to label teachers as lazy bums and liberals while not including all public employees?

    7

    Paul Silkiner 1 year, 1 month ago

    Liberals, your ideas shall be your undoing..................

    4

    Brad Greenwood 1 year, 1 month ago

    Oh, and by the way Stafford, tomorrow I'm setting up my direct deposit with my bank for my KNEA dues... and doubling the normal amount.

    19

    Brad Greenwood 1 year, 1 month ago

    "Protect individual rights?" By taking away my right to do with my money as I please?
    And the next shoe to drop will be the removal of my rights to negotiate my own contract.
    Gee, if only there were a political party in power that while preaching the reduction of big government would keep it's nose out of my personal business. Anyone? Anyone...?

    16

    lawrenceguy40 1 year, 1 month ago

    A huge victory for individual rights. Kansas is moving towards being a state that respects and rewards hard work and rejects lazy bums and their liberals supporters.

    5

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