Sacramento Bee: Missouri Senate passes regulations on public unions

Missouri senators on Wednesday passed a bill to further regulate public unions, including a proposed requirement that they hold recertification elections every three years and get permission annually to withhold dues from workers’ paychecks.

Unions would need at least half of employees to vote in their favor in order to be recertified under the legislation. The measure passed the Senate 21-11 and now heads back to the House because of Senate changes.

The Republican-led Legislature faces a Friday deadline to pass bills.  

“The goal of this bill is to make these labor organizations more accountable to their members,” said Sen. Bob Onder, a Lake St. Louis Republican handling the House bill in the Senate. “In that way, I believe those public labor unions would be more protective (and) do a better job protecting their employees.”

But union supporters, primarily Democrats, slammed the bill. Sen. Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur was among the Democrats who argued it would hurt public-sector unions.

“When you weaken the unions, it affects their ability to bargain and negotiate collectively for decent wages and benefits and safety,” she said.

The Senate’s version of the measure would also require 30 percent of workers’ signatures to call an election to create or dissolve unions. Votes from more than half of workers would be required to certify or decertify the organizations.

Unions would need annual written or electronic permission from workers to automatically withdraw dues from their paychecks, and public labor organizations would need to provide financial and other records to employees. Other provisions include banning paid time off for union business, with the exception of handling grievances.

Correction workers, police, firefighters and other public emergency personnel would be exempted.

The proposal is one of several labor-related measures still pending in the final days of the 2018 legislative session.

Some lawmakers in a late push have succeeded in advancing a plan that would bump up the date of a public vote on right to work: a law passed last year that would ban mandatory union fees. A resolution pending in the House would change the date of the vote from the Nov. 6 general election to the Aug. 7 primary.

Another proposal would repeal Missouri’s prevailing wage law, which mandates that governments pay more than the state’s standard minimum wage for employees on public works projects.

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