Senate approves renewal process for public employee union dues

February 16, 2012

The state senate passed a bill that forces members of public employee union to annually request union dues be deducted from their paychecks. Supporters argue government shouldn’t be in the business of collecting union dues. But opponents say the measure is the first step in weakening public employee unions. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.

Teachers, police, firefighters and other members of public employee unions are allowed to have their union dues deducted from their paychecks. The senate bill requires that members reapprove that deduction each year. Democratic Senator David Lujan says it is an insult to state and municipal employees, especially firefighters and police.

“We’re saying that that these people, our public heros, our first responders are put under too much pressure and they can’t have the will to get themselves out of the union if they want to,” Lujan said on the Senate floor.  “I don’t think that’s the way we should be treating our public heros, our first responders.”

Democrats say the measure is part of a larger attempt to weaken unions.  But one of its sponsors, Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, says the bill is not as evil as opponents make it out to be. 

“This bill does not union bust in any way, shape or form,” Biggs said. “This bill is kind of like renewing a magazine subscription.”

Republicans say the bill helps prevent public employee union dues from being used in political campaigns – something allowed under the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United. Union leaders say they have not used union dues for political campaigns. 

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