A politician that uses taxpayer funds for personal political campaigns can be sent to jail. Yet, current Missouri law allows thousands in taxpayers’ dollars to go to political campaigns every year unchecked, siphoned off of public employees’ paychecks in the form of union dues.
Legislation given first round approval by the Missouri House on March 31 would end that practice. House Bill 1617, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, a Republican from Sikeston, would provide public employees “paycheck protection,” barring public employee unions from automatically withholding dues from employees to use for political purposes. The legislation would require public employee labor unions to get annual written permission from each employee before withholding union dues or using those dues for political purposes.
“Employees have a right to say what is taken out of their paychecks for political campaigns; just like each year employees have the option to choose how much is withdrawn to go to organizations like United Way or how much money is taken out of their paychecks for their Cafeteria or 401K plans,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “The legislation doesn’t keep an employee from making a contribution, but it gives that employee the choice.”
Despite harsh debate that went on for more than two hours, Rep. Rehder stood strong to protect public workers and their hard-earned pay.
A 2014 survey of union members and households, conducted by Susquehanna Polling, shows that union members agree that it is wrong to use taxpayer resources for political purposes. Eighty percent of union members don’t think taxpayer resources should be used to collect campaign contributions. The survey also showed that the majority of those union households support paycheck protection.
“Lawmakers and public union leaders need to listen to the people they claim to represent,” said Mehan. “Union workers support this legislation. Union workers want a say in how their union dues are spent.”
A similar bill was passed in the 2013. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that bill. HB 1617 would take the issue directly to the ballot for approval by Missouri voters.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.