The Missouri State House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would provide public-sector employees the right to opt out of automatic deduction of dues and agency fees paid to unions. Although Missouri public employees are not currently protected by a “right to work” law that allows them to refrain from paying any dues or fees to a labor organization without being fired, they may affirmatively opt out of automatic, IRS-style paycheck deductions. Missouri’s bill would require unions to obtain signed authorization from employees annually to continue automatic deductions or collect dues and fees by other methods of payment.
It resembles a provision in a proposed piece of federal legislation that would change the system for collecting fees or dues used for political purposes from opt-out (under a convoluted, union-to-union and state-to-state process created by a Supreme Court decision) to opt-in. The Employee Rights Act, a bill proposed in Congress by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia), would grant private-sector employees the ability to opt out of paying for unions’ political operations.
This would correct a systematic unfairness in labor policy; namely, unions backing candidates their members don’t support with dues money-especially forced dues in non-right to work states like Missouri. Unions currently spend about 90 percent of their political money that goes to major party candidates on Democratic politicians, but national exit polls consistently show about 40 percent of union members vote Republican.
As a result, 83 percent of union household members supported the ERA’s paycheck protection in a recent national poll. It’s time for Congress to take a stand for employee rights.