From:                              Glenn Hamer []

Sent:                               Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:56 PM


Subject:                          Paycheck Protection


The Bottom Line
A weekly commentary from inside the business community

Paycheck Protection
February 10, 2009
by Glenn Hamer  

When it comes to an employee's paycheck, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Arizona Manufacturers Council firmly believe that employees know best how and where to spend  their money.  Employees have diverse opinions on political candidates and issues. Unfortunately, under the current system, employees who wish to join a union will likely have a portion of their union dues diverted to political advocacy without their consent. Political action taken by unions often does not accurately reflect the desires or intentions of its membership. Oftentimes, the union will spend money opposing the very issues or candidates a union member supports.
For example, in the last election cycle, polling showed that roughly 30 percent of union members voted for Senator McCain. But, nearly all of the union resources in the presidential race were directed against him.  How can we prevent this behind-the-back maneuver from occurring? 

Six states have already passed what are known as "paycheck protection" laws. Washington State, Michigan, and Wyoming have passed paycheck protection laws that apply to all unionized workers. Utah and Idaho have passed paycheck protection laws that only apply to employees in public sector unions. And Ohio requires written employee authorization to deduct paycheck amounts for "hard money" (Federal) contributions to labor union PACs. These state laws further the landmark 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Communication Workers. v. Beck, which established that union dues cannot be coerced from employees for activities outside of collective bargaining, including political activities.  It also ruled that workers are entitled to a refund of the portion of their dues spent on political activity.

Here in Arizona, State Representative Sam Crump is leading the effort to protect Arizona workers from having their union dues spent on political advocacy without their express consent. Arizona law (A.R.S. Sec. 23-352) already prohibits an employer from withholding or diverting any portion of an employee's wages unless authorized by state or federal law, or if the employee provides written authorization. Mr. Crump's bill simply provides additional paycheck protection along those lines to all Arizona employees who are members of unions. Rep. Crump's bill (HB 2274) requires affirmative consent before union dues can be used for political activity. The bill advanced out of the House Government Committee today by a vote of 6-3-0. (Senator Steve Pierce has introduced similar legislation, SB 1268.)

Arizona's Right to Work status is a major reason the state experienced substantial job growth over the past several decades. Providing workers with a right to determine whether their dues are directed to political activity is consistent with Arizona's employment culture and would further the U.S. Supreme Court's Beck decision. Union members will still be free to contribute to political causes; however they would no longer be coerced into doing so as a condition of union membership. By providing workers with the freedom to choose which candidates and issues to support, we can improve the transparency and accountability of funding campaigns. 

Glenn Hamer is president & CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona's competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.




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