The Buzz

Missouri House overrides veto of ‘paycheck protection’ bill

Rep. Holly Rehder, a Sikeston Republican, sponsored the “paycheck protection” bill.
Rep. Holly Rehder, a Sikeston Republican, sponsored the “paycheck protection” bill. Missouri House Communications

Another battle over union rights looms in the Missouri Senate.

The Missouri House voted 109-47 Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill requiring most public employee unions to acquire written permission from members annually before any union dues can be withheld from their paychecks.

The measure, known as “paycheck protection” to supporters and “paycheck deception” to detractors, exempts first responders, such as police and firefighters, but includes unions representing teachers, social workers and most other state or local government employees.

It now heads back to the Senate, which one year ago completely shut down after Republicans forced a vote on another of organized labor’s most despised bills — the so-called right-to-work measure.

House Democrats warned that voting to override the governor’s veto would mean setting up another potential blowup in the Senate, dooming many bills that have yet to win final passage.

“You’re sending a ticking time bomb to the Senate,” said Rep. John Rizzo, a Kansas City Democrat.

But Republicans argued the legislation was needed to ensure unions are accountable to their members.

“Trust and confidence in public and private unions is at an all-time low,” said House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican. “Maybe a little transparency would help.”

Thirty minutes of heated debate ended with 108 Republicans and one Democrat — St. Louis County Rep. Courtney Curtis — voting to override the governor’s veto, giving the majority the exact number of votes it needed.

Seven Republicans joined 39 Democrats and one independent to oppose the override.

It takes 23 votes to override a veto in the Senate, and in March the bill passed with 22 Republicans and Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal voting in favor.

Chappelle-Nadal told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shortly after the vote that she supported the bill in order to force unions to negotiate with her on issues she’s pushing for.

Proponents say the measure prevents teachers and other government workers from being forced to contribute to political activities they don’t support. It also forces more transparency on public-sector unions, they argue, and ensures members are aware of how their money is being spent.

Critics point out that unlike private-sector unions in Missouri, membership in a public employee union is already voluntary. Workers can quit a union at any time. The real aim of the legislation, critics contend, is to weaken one of the GOP’s chief political adversaries by forcing public unions to spend resources to constantly hound membership for money.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock