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Senate joins House in cutting off union dues

by John Kennedy | April 13th, 2011

After almost three hours of withering criticism from union representatives, a Senate panel approved legislation Wednesday that would bar governments from deducting dues for labor organizations.

Union officials testified that the legislation (CS/SB 830) was “union-busting,” designed to blunt the political power of organizations which last fall opposed Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Senate sponsor John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who last year was chairman of the state GOP.

But Thrasher insisted the measure is merely to shield state and local governments from playing a role in partisan politics with the payroll deductions.

“This is what I campaign on last year, and that’s limited government,” Thrasher said. “Government should not be the tax collector for unions.”

But Dwight Mattingly, a West Palm Beach transit union worker, said the legislation will hurt.

“This bill does not empower me,” Mattingly said. “It takes away my ability to have a voice.”

The House last month already approved a similar measure (CS/HB 1021) on a almost strictly party-line vote, 73-40. But Wednesday’s vote by the Senate Budget Committee proved a tougher test.

The panel’s 11-9 approval came with three Republican lawmakers joining Democrats in opposition.

“This has nothing to do with jobs or the economy,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston. “Silencing the voices of thousands of union members is not what my constituents sent me up here to do.”

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