Holden defends non-union fees

Thursday, February 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:07 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY— Gov. Bob Holden vetoed legislation Wednesday that sought to block the collection of union bargaining fees from state employees who do not belong to unions.

The Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders have been sparring over unions’ role in state government since Holden signed an executive order granting collective bargaining rights to thousands of state workers in June 2001.

Among other things, that order gave unions the power to collect fees from non-union employees covered by bargaining units to help cover the costs of negotiations.

Legislators passed a resolution earlier this month blocking an administrative rule that would create a procedure for deducting those dues from employee paychecks.

Republicans said the rule ignored a state law that prohibits withholding any money from employees’ paychecks without their agreement. Holden and other Democrats argue that employees in essence gave their approval because their unit voted to join a union.But Holden’s veto may not be the final word.

Legislators could override the veto by two-thirds majorities in each chamber,but that would require the support of some Democrats, which supporters acknowledge is unlikely. If the legislature does not override the veto, the Office of Administration could send the rule to the secretary of state, who must publish rules in the Missouri Register for them to take effect.

Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt, who is running for governor, has previously said that he believes the union-fee rule is illegal and that he would not publish it unless it were changed. His office did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

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