Missouri governor vetoes bill on union fees

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

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From Southwest Missourian:

by Adam Aton

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday vetoed legislation requiring public employees to annually reauthorize paying their union dues through paycheck withholdings, setting up a confrontation with Republican leaders who say they have enough votes to overrule him.

This is the third time the Democratic governor has vetoed legislation that would change the rules for unions, which represent about 257,000 Missouri workers -- nearly 10 percent of the state's workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure is for all workers represented by a union and does not give a breakdown for private companies and public entities. Nixon has vetoed 138 bills since he took office in 2009, and 34 have been overridden by the Legislature so the measures became law.

Nixon vetoed a similar bill in 2013, which lawmakers failed to override. And last year, lawmakers failed to overturn his veto of so-called "right-to-work" legislation that would bar private-sector unions from requiring workers to pay fees, despite GOP supermajorities in both chambers.

The Democratic governor said this year's bill piles unnecessary burdens onto public unions. He pointed to a requirement for unions to retain internal information as searchable, electronic records and allow employees to sue if they cannot access them.

Republican supporters describe the measure as "paycheck protection," arguing it would make unions more responsive to members' needs and opinions.

Nixon called such concerns a pretext to interfere with unions, noting public workers already can end their paycheck withholdings at any time.

"The animus towards those organizations underlying this legislation is clear," he wrote in his veto message.

Nixon also condemned the bill for "inexplicably" exempting first-responders from the requirement to reauthorize paycheck withholdings.

"The legislation picks and chooses who to 'protect' based on political calculations rather than a rational basis," he wrote in a veto message to legislators.

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