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Michigan HB 4929 is just recent legislation passed intended to crush our unions in the state. By not allowing payroll deduction of union dues, individual employees must write a check each month to their unions to pay their dues.  No matter how loyal or well-intentioned union members may be, this is likely to result in many people not paying their union dues regularly, on time or maybe not paying them at all.  What better way to destroy a union?

Below is my correspondence with my state representative regarding this issue.

My first email to her:

Well, it appears the Republicans in the state of Michigan are relentless in their attack on public workers.... but this is totally ridiculous!

This morning extreme Lansing politicians are retaliating against an effort launched by teachers, nurses, and construction workers yesterday to amend the state constitution to protect collective bargaining rights and strengthen Michigan’s middle class.

Today the Michigan Senate retaliated by passing HB 4929, which would punish public school teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers by placing burdensome new restrictions on the collection of dues that protect employees through collective bargaining agreements.  The bill would prohibit the use of payroll deduction for the collection of dues.  According to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency, HB 4929, “would have no significant fiscal impact on school districts.”  An amendment was put on the bill in committee that would allow payroll deduction if the union local reimbursed the cost to the school district; that reasonable amendment was taken out of the bill on the Senate floor.  The bill now moves to the House where it has already been passed once, but now need to be voted on again because of a few changes.

As a life-long teacher, I am insulted that this punitive legislation is even remotely considered a good move. Good legislation should help citizens, should protect citizens - not punish or alienate your constituency.   So far, Republicans in this state and across the nation have earned the outrage of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, women, the poor, unions, senior citizens and those who support education and the environment.  
Keep it up, you'll get yourselves voted right out of office and replaced with sensitive, caring elected officials. The fact that so many of the bills passed since 2010 when Republicans took over our state government are being challenged in the courts and will have to be overturned - should be a clue.

This is her polite response:
Thank you for making me aware of your concerns regarding changing the way union dues are paid.
My support for this bill is because currently school districts are serving as a collection agency for unions.  Schools have real work to do on the behalf of our state's children and should not be further burdened with having to handle administrative activities for unions.
Schools should not be forced to take a side between teachers and their union leadership. The fight over union dues and how they are used is a private business matter in which school districts should not be playing a role.
We are fighting for the hardworking taxpayers in Michigan who deserve better. Blind political payroll deductions and disputes between union membership and their leadership should have nothing to do with our local schools or our children's education. You deserve a more accountable and efficient government.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office regarding help with any state-level issues you may have.

Sincerely,

And my less polite rebuttal:
Again, you are sadly misinformed and are just following your party mandates on how to vote.  I have discussed this with school officials and the deduction of union dues from employee pay and submitting it to the unions is actually less of a burden than the process of automatic payroll deposit into the bank or credit union of the employee's choice.  You know that the Democrats offered an amendment that would allow for the unions to pay any clerical/administrative costs to continue this convenient process.  This is a blatant, obvious attempt to attack union employees by making the payment of union dues more "inconvenient" to help crush unions in this state.  

Your party has done nothing but disrupt and anger public employees and has not served to make our state government run more smoothly.  And it is quite clear to voters that states run by Republicans are turning against the workers and are way too pro-business - to the detriment of good governance. (Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, etc. have all had recalls, demonstrations and outrage over the extreme measures used to attack public workers, especially teachers.) As I mentioned in a previous email to you, these actions are drastically reducing your support base here and across the country. I remind you that an effective government works FOR the common people, not AGAINST them.

I'm not sure what unions representing teachers and other state employees are going to do in response at this point. I'm sure there will be legal challenges and contract language clearly states the methods of payroll deduction in most union contracts. Can a law passed by a partisan legislature overturn contracts?  I'd be interested in hearing what you all think of this new move by Snyder&Co to destroy public employees, their right to bargain, their right to strike, their unions and their morale.  

Originally posted to moose67 on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 09:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Your Government at Work and Michigan, My Michigan.

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