Blunt to grudgingly publish union fee rule

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — After three years and a court order, Secretary of State Matt Blunt will publish a rule today requiring new state employees to pay union fees.

The rule will take effect Jan. 30, by which time Blunt will have been inaugurated governor. That means Blunt will have authority to rescind the order, which he said he will do on his first day in the state’s top job.

Blunt has argued that the rule, stemming from an executive order issued by Gov. Bob Holden in June 2001, is unconstitutional.

“You can’t by law force people to join organizations against their will, which this executive order forces people to do,” Blunt’s spokesman Spence Jackson said.

Jackson said Blunt is publishing the rule only because a Cole County circuit judge in August ordered him to do so.

Unlike union dues, the so-called “fair-share fees” outlined by the new rule cover the costs of collective bargaining. Union leaders argue all state workers should pay them because they benefit from those negotiations.

Opponents of the fees argue they force levies on all workers regardless of whether they wish to participate in the union.

The August court order was the result of a lawsuit filed against Blunt by leaders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Executive orders don’t take effect until published by the secretary of state in the Missouri Register. An AFSCME representative said the secretary of state is required to publish all rules issued by the governor and has no right to exercise judicial review.

AFSCME wanted the rule to take effect before Blunt took office, so that unions would be able to collect the fees for at least one year, federation spokesman Kevin Heyen said.

“Contracts are signed and expire at a certain date, and they are not revoked just because there is a new governor,” Heyen said. “This is just like any other contract the state signs.”

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