Holden vows to veto Senate bill on union fees

Friday, February 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:02 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Senate Republicans passed legislation Thursday to block the collection of union negotiating fees from state employees who aren’t union members. But Democratic Gov. Bob Holden promised a veto.

The political showdown marked the latest development in a battle stemming from Holden’s June 2001 executive order granting collective bargaining rights to thousands of state employees.

Among other things, the order allowed union-negotiated contracts to include provisions fees to all employees in a bargaining unit, even to those who choose not to join the union.

Although the fees are common in the private sector, Republican lawmakers contend they violate a Missouri law requiring the consent of state workers to deduct fees from their paychecks.

A mechanism for collecting the fees was contained in a rule proposed last August by the state Office of Administration. But the legislature can block rules by adopting a resolution to do so within the first 30 working days of their legislation session, which began in January.

The Republican-led House passed the resolution two weeks ago. The Senate followed suit on a party-line 20-13 vote, sending the measure to the governor.

Holden spokeswoman Mary Still said Thursday that Holden would veto the resolution “because he believes state workers deserve the same rights as any other workers.”

Legislators could override a veto with two-thirds majorities in each chamber — 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House — but that would require the support of some Democrats, an unlikely scenario.

Republican senators said they were simply standing up for state employees.

“This is an issue about what’s right and wrong,” Sen. John Russell, R-Lebanon, told colleagues. “This doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with collective bargaining. ...This has to do with what is right for our state employees.”

Democrats contend that state employees implicitly consented to the deductions when their work units voted to be represented by a union.

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