Anti-union ‘paycheck deception’ bill advances in Minnesota House

Legislation that would make it harder for working people in Minnesota to join together cleared its first hurdle Thursday night, as the House Government Operations Committee voted to advance a paycheck deception bill.

Authored by notoriously anti-union lawmaker Steve Drazkowski, a House Republican, the bill would ban public employees from using payroll deduction to pay their union dues, if those dues fund political activities.

Drazkowski claimed his intent was to protect public workers who don’t agree with their union’s political agenda from being forced to pay for it. But in testimony before the committee, Minnesota AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Julie Blaha said the bill’s true motive is far less noble.

Paycheck deception “really has one purpose: to make it harder for working people to join together in common purpose,” Blaha said.

At best, Drazkowski’s bill is a solution in search of a problem. Whether they work in the public or private sector, union members already have a choice when it comes to paying for political activities.

No worker in the U.S. can be forced to join a union. In Minnesota, workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement may opt out of membership dues and pay agency fees, which cover only the cost of representation but do not fund political advocacy.

At worst, the bill is a cynical ploy to make it harder for working people to engage in politics through their unions. Blaha called it an unnecessary “hoop” through which unions would be forced to jump, rigging the system even more for corporations and the super-rich.

“People that push paycheck deception laws want you to think these laws protect workers,” Blaha said. “They don’t. Paycheck deception bills only protect billionaires and CEO’s who want to chip away at the freedoms people in unions have won for all of us.”

Rep. Mike Nelson, a union carpenter and the DFL party’s leading member on the committee, offered an amendment to Drazkowski’s bill that would have forced corporations to jump through the same hoops. Any corporation that spends more than $10,000 on political activity in Minnesota, Nelson said, should have to poll their shareholders first.

“I’m a stockholder in many corporations,” Nelson said, adding that “corporate boards are able to spend money on political purposes” he doesn’t always agree with – and do it without his consent.

The amendment failed.

Union members packed the hearing room at 10:15 a.m. for the start of the committee meeting to show their opposition to paycheck deception. But the committee adjourned after roughly two hours without considering the bill, then reconvened more than five hours later.

Drazkowski’s was the final bill the committee considered before adjourning for the night.

 

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Comments

  1. Pat Meyer says:

    Post this on facebook

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