by David Safier
You may have read about SB1365, the bill that forbids any automatic salary deductions for union members that can be used for political purposes without the members' express, written permission. It's another obvious attempt to cripple unions' political clout so Republican big money interests can have an unobstructed path to buying power and influence.
The bill, by the way, applies to unions representing private as well as public employees.
In the original version, all unions were created equal — equally unable to make the deductions — that is, until a little noticed change was slipped into the revised, Senate Engrossed Version.
"Public safety employees" are exempted from the law in its latest incarnation. That means unions representing police, fire fighters, prison employees and probation officers will still be able to deduct funds for political purposes without written consent from their members. Here is the exemption, which wasn't in the original bill:
H. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, EMPLOYEE DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY PUBLIC SAFETY EMPLOYEE, INCLUDING A PEACE OFFICER, FIRE FIGHTER, CORRECTIONS OFFICER, PROBATION OFFICER OR SURVEILLANCE OFFICER, WHO IS EMPLOYED BY THIS STATE OR A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE.
There is absolutely no non-political reason why this one category of union employees should be exempted. None. The only four possible reasons are: (1) Republicans don't want to tangle with these unions; (2) Republican voter/supporters don't hate/demonize "public safety employees" like they do other public employees; (3) "Public safety employees" unions contribute to conservative causes; (4) All of the above.
Republicans aren't even trying to hide this blatant grab for political power, unless sneaking the provision in after the original bill was written can be construed as trying to hide it.