Paycheck Deception Legislation Advances in Mo. State House


April 26, 2013

Missouri’s House Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee approved “paycheck protection” legislation on April 10. The bill would weaken public-sector unions by prohibiting members from having dues earmarked for political action from being automatically deducted from their paychecks.


Similar legislation passed the state senate earlier this spring. Proponents of the bill – primarily corporate-funded right-wing lobbying groups like Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council – claim it will give workers more freedom and choice. But a new study from the Economic Policy Institute refutes claims.

For EPI, political economist Gordon Lafer writes:

Neither [bill] will provide Missouri with any new rights that they do not possess under existing law… While providing no new rights, [it] would impede union political activity with extensive and onerous bureaucratic roadblocks that would waste valuable resources and hamper unions’ ability to respond to political attacks against labor rights.

Federal law already requires that any political spending by unions be done through a separate political action committee, funded with voluntary donations.  Similar rules exist on the state level.

In other words, writes Lafer:

It is already the case that under both federal and state law, no employees – whether in the private sector or the public – can be forced to pay to support a political cause they oppose.

So why the sudden push for so-called paycheck protection? Lafer says it is the result of a concentrated push by ALEC, which has promoted similar bills in dozens of other states, to weaken the labor movement.  

Funded by some of the largest corporations in the country, including Wal-Mart and Koch Industries, ALEC is a Washington, D.C. - based think-tank that promotes “model” or complete legislation to state lawmakers to further its anti-worker agenda. 

Writers Lafer:

Over the past decade, ALEC’s leading corporate backers have contributed more than $370 million to state elections, and over 100 laws a year are adopted based on ALEC’s model bills.

While making it harder for unions to participate in the political process, other organizations that benefit from automatic payroll deductions – from health and life insurance companies to prescription drug distributors – are exempted from the legislation, even though many of those companies also spend money on politics and lobbying.

Says state Rep. Keith English, who is also a member of St. Louis Local 1:

This is a reckless paycheck deception measure, that singles out unions for discrimination.

Click here to read the whole EPI report.


Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user jimmywayne.