Paycheck Piracy? Louisiana’s Public Employees Deserve Protection
Auto-pay is one of modern life’s great conveniences. It’s hard to put a price on the peace of mind that comes with having your credit card or cell phone bill paid on time each month. But can you imagine asking your employer to make sure your Netflix subscription or gym membership is renewed? That’s exactly what’s happening to Louisianans who are members of public sector unions, and it’s being done against their will. It’s time that the Louisiana legislature join the growing movement of states who are protecting these workers from this pernicious paycheck piracy.
Each pay period, public employee unions force public employers to do their bill collecting for them by deducting membership dues from paychecks. Union membership dues are unlike payroll deductions for retirement plans or health insurance because they are for the benefit of a private organization that often uses member dues for political speech.
So far this year, five state legislatures are attempting to put an end to this practice by proposing paycheck protection bills. State legislatures in Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas passed laws that will empower public employees to take control of their income by ending automatic payroll deductions of union membership dues. Public employees in each of these states may choose to continue their union membership but may need to make other arrangements to pay dues. Similar legislation is pending in Oklahoma, and Kentucky’s governor vetoed that state’s paycheck protection bill.
The Florida legislation is noteworthy because it seeks to preserve public employees’ paychecks as well as their First Amendment rights to speech and association. In addition to ending automatic payroll deductions, some of the highlights of the bill include:
- The employee’s right to revoke their membership at any time and not limited to a narrow drop window that may only last a few days each year.
- Transparency measures, including requiring the union to provide the names, salaries, and disbursements to their highest-compensated officers and employees, and the requirement that the union must provide an annual accounting of membership dues and assessments.
- A requirement that members are annually informed of their right to join and pay dues to a union, or refrain from joining, and that they may not be discriminated against for their decision.
- Raising the threshold for union recertification from 50% to 60%, which allows members a say on whether to keep their current union or to engage with any union at all.
Louisiana’s public sector workers deserve to be treated like responsible adults and should be given more control over their paychecks. The legislature should consider a bill like Florida’s to restore workers’ First Amendment rights as required by the Supreme Court’s Janus decision.