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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

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

lawrenceguy40 1 year, 9 months 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.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 9 months ago

Just who are you calling a lazy bum? Teachers? State employees? I hope not. If so, you don't know what you're talking about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

A victory for individual rights? A member of a public employee union used to have the individual right to choose to have dues deducted from their paycheck. They have now had that right stolen from them.

As already noted, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Or is it just willful ignorance, and what you really want is to have individual rights restricted because they don't jive with your ideology, which, in fact, cares not a whit about individual rights?

Jock Navels 1 year, 9 months ago

Yep...Kanzassippi is here...let's us be so poor, underpaid and controlled by the few super rich that no self-respecting alien would ever want to sneak into the state and work.

Alyosha 1 year, 9 months ago

Denying rights of individual workers to have payroll deductions made as they see fit = victory for individual rights.

Doublespeak if there ever were.

Brad Greenwood 1 year, 9 months 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...?

Brad Greenwood 1 year, 9 months 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.

gr 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm confused. You talk about taking away your right to do with your money as you please and then the next post you talk about using your right for a direct deposit. Sounds like you had a choice after and that same right allows others to make an alternate choice.

Brad Greenwood 1 year, 9 months ago

We used to have the choice to have it taken out of our paycheck, but the state just took that choice away. Now we either have to pay dues directly or set up payments through our bank instead of our employer. The state just keeps putting more hoops for us to jump through hoping we'll give up and go away. Not bloody likely!

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

I don't think this was a liberal idea.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 9 months ago

Big soap, at least liberals have ideas which proves they can think. Radicals on the right including Sam brownback and our current legislature can't think. They just repeat lies said over and over again on Fox News and at Alec conferences.

arch007bak 1 year, 9 months 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?

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

Police and firefighters have traditionally voted more conservatively, so they're being rewarded by being exempted from this blatantly political measure. The're also often exempted from union busting in other states.

gr 1 year, 9 months ago

What says they can't spend their money how they want?

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

If they can spend their money however they want, why create this law in the first place?

newmedia 1 year, 9 months 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months 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.

John Hamm 1 year, 9 months 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.

gr 1 year, 9 months ago

Without coercion? And, could they automatically have it deducted for any candidate or party? What percentage did not contribute before the bill? Then we can compare the percentage afterward and see if they "really" had that choice.

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

Huh? Making it harder to donate and then seeing a decrease in donations would somehow prove that they didn't have a choice?

jafs 1 year, 9 months ago

They could choose whether or not to have the union PAC money automatically collected from their paychecks.

So, there's no need for this bill at all, if the reason is to give them a choice.

As far as other ways of donating to other causes, etc. they can write a check if they like - according to the bill promoters, that's easy to do.

gr 1 year, 9 months ago

So would you be saying the government had made it easier for people to donate to certain beneficiaries but not others. That is, the government was promoting donations to selected organizations?

Katara 1 year, 9 months ago

Yes, without coercion.

You see, there was this case that was heard before the SCOTUS. You may have seen me mention it before.

It was Communications Workers of America v. Beck that already decided that union members could not be forced to support the political activities of the union but still could retain their negotiating benefits.

Under this decision, many places set up automatic deduction for union dues. You had to opt-in in Right to Work states and you had to opt-in for monies to be spent on the union's political activities.

In states where all employees in an organization were required to pay dues (such as MO), the monies used for political activities of the union had to be refunded back to members who did not wish to support those activities.

It is called exercising your Beck rights.

JohnBrown 1 year, 9 months 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

William Weissbeck 1 year, 9 months 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.

Glenn Reed 1 year, 9 months 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.

KSManimal 1 year, 9 months 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.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 9 months ago

I have no problem with this at all. No deductions for anything including income taxes that they take from the working stiffs and give to social leeches.

voevoda 1 year, 9 months ago

Among the people who receive money that came from taxes: soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, food inspectors, air traffic controlers, judges, prosecutors, prison guards, diplomats, teachers, school bus drivers, city bus drivers, water and sewage workers, highway construction workers, professors, VA physicians, nurses, and medical technicians, garbage men, mental health professionals, safety inspectors, border guards, customs inspectors, motor vehicle inspectors. Are these the people you are calling "social leeches," Cant?

voevoda 1 year, 9 months ago

More people who are paid from tax money: librarians, museum curators, forest rangers, archivists, public defenders, urban planners, Army Corps of Engineers, foster parents, intelligence analysts, road maintenance crews, patent and copyright registrars, US Mint. All "working stiffs," Cant, and no "social leeches."

Alyosha 1 year, 9 months ago

You're operating under wholly false assumptions.

1southernjayhawk 1 year, 9 months 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.

MarcoPogo 1 year, 9 months ago

This is where Bozo can respond with how he is anti-eating-a-bowl-of-warm-cat-vomit and we see how strictly you follow your philosophical stance. What a bunch of sillies.

jafs 1 year, 9 months ago

If you simply oppose everything bozo is for, that's a very reactive and not very well thought out philosophy, in my view.

George_Braziller 1 year, 9 months 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 . . .

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 9 months 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?

Alyosha 1 year, 9 months ago

Doubtful they even thought it through that far. It's an ideological push having nothing to do with legal precedence or rational thinking.

weeslicket 1 year, 9 months 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.

weeslicket 1 year, 9 months 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.

goodcitizen 1 year, 9 months 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.

Katara 1 year, 9 months 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

Anthony Mall 1 year, 9 months 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!!!

bballwizard 1 year, 9 months 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

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months 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.

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