Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bill would prohibit public agencies and schools in Kansas from collecting union dues

March 12, 2015

— Business groups are urging Kansas lawmakers to pass a bill that would prohibit state and local government agencies, including school districts, from using their payroll systems to collect union dues.

Officials from several public employee unions told the Senate Commerce Committee that such a move would be unfair because they pay a fee for the convenience of having dues withheld from their members' paychecks, just as the United Way and many nonprofit organizations do.

And some argued that banning union dues from payroll deductions while allowing other groups to use that service could amount to a constitutional violation.

"I do think that's viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment," said Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, which represents about 8,000 state workers.

Senate Bill 212 is the second anti-union bill in as many days to come before the committee. On Wednesday, the committee heard testimony on another bill that would limit collective bargaining with public unions to just wages and salaries while abolishing the state Public Employee Relations Board.

Both bills are supported by the Kansas Chamber and other pro-business groups.

"Our members' concern is that the government is in the role of collecting the union dues for the organizations that sit across the negotiating table to ask for more taxpayer dollars," Dan Murray, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, told the committee Thursday.

Committee Chairwoman Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, said she has not decided whether she will try to move either bill out of committee and send them to the full Senate.

"There's been some conversation on the House side as to whether or not the House wants to have these bills on the floor this year," Lynn said after the hearing. "I certainly wouldn't want to put our caucus in a position to work these bills if they're not going to go anywhere. It's as simple as that."

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