GOP resists Holden union fee rule

Republicans prepare for a showdown vote on the pro-union rule.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:13 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Bob Holden’s effort to allow unions to take money from nonunion state workers was voted down by a House rules committee Tuesday.

By a party-line vote, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules sent to the full House a resolution recommending the removal of the service fee rule.

The General Assembly now has until early March to act on the resolution. If it does not make it out of the General Assembly, Holden’s executive order still could face a legal challenge over whether a governor can take money from workers without specific legal authority.

“This is a very unusual step we’re having to take,” said Richard Byrd, R-St. Louis County.

The Tuesday afternoon debate was filled with legal minutiae and improprieties, of missing private entity forms and negligent fiscal impact evaluations. Witnesses spoke of the value of unions, and a lobbyist said he feared that executive orders would overtake legislative process, and that state employees would be forced into losing some of their paycheck.

“This is not voluntary,” Byrd said about the effects of Holden’s order on job seekers. “This is an economic gun to the head.”

But some said the real motivation behind the attack on Holden’s rule, masked by legal technicalities, is ultimately nothing more than pure politics.

“We recognize that there are technical issues,” said Missouri AFL-CIO Treasurer Herb Johnson. “But we don’t believe there is a violation. This is strictly political.”

Democratic Floor Leader Rick Johnson, D-High Ridge, was also critical of the entirely Republican-driven efforts to pass the resolution.

“Someday, it will make sense to work for the state, rather than to be a ward of the state,” he said. “This is about state employees being treated fairly, and it’s one more slap in the face.”

If the legislature passes the resolution, it is subject to veto by the governor and a veto override that would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

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