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Texas GOP Chairman ‘Very Supportive’ of Bill Reforming Public-Sector Unions

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AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Chairman Tom Mechler spoke to Breitbart Texas to express his support for SB 1968, a bill filed by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) that would end the practice of automatic payroll deductions for labor union dues for the majority of public-sector unions. Mechler was elected the new RPT Chairman in an election earlier this month.

Mechler told Breitbart Texas that the RPT was “very supportive” of SB 1968, explaining that it “would restore fairness to the negotiating process.”

“We don’t think the unions should be getting special treatment like they are right now,” said Mechler. “It’s inappropriate that they give the unions special treatment that nobody else gets.”

As Breitbart Texas reported, SB 1968 amends Chapter 617, Texas Government Code, to add a new Section 617.006, titled “Prohibition on Collection of Labor Organization Dues,” as follows:

Except as provided by Sections 141.008 and 155.001, Local Government Code, and Sections 403.0165 and 659.1031, Government Code, the state or a political subdivision of the state may not deduct or withhold, or contract to deduct or withhold, from an employee’s salary or wages payment of dues or membership fees to a labor organization or other similar entity, including a trade union, labor union, employees’ association, or professional organization.

In essence, what SB 1968 would do is end the practice of labor union dues from being automatically withheld from the paychecks of government employees. There is an exception for police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel, whose unions will still be able to use automatic paycheck withdrawals to collect their dues.. This would apply to state, county, and municipal employees, including employees of community colleges, universities, and school districts.

If passed, SB 1968 is expected to have a substantial financial impact on public-sector unions, and therefore on their political activities. Unions have historically supported Democrat or liberal candidates, and often throw significant resources at influencing elections, not just with direct monetary contributions, but by providing additional manpower to walk precincts, call voters, and work at polling places.

SB 1968’s exceptions for law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency medical services personnel was appropriate, said Mechler. “We’re fine with this,” he said, “and hoping they’ll stay on the sidelines in this debate” since the legislation will not affect them.

Mechler also noted that it seemed to be a conflict of interest, for a municipality to collect dues for a union, and then the union is on the other side of the negotiating table.

Breitbart Texas asked Mechler if he had spoken to Huffman about the bill. He said he had not had the chance to discuss the bill in depth with her yet, but had reached out to her after the bill was filed to let her know that the party was supportive.

Mechler also said that the RPT was closely watching this bill, “intending to push back” against some of the union tactics, which had him “very concerned.” Mechler declined to give specifics, saying that they had heard that the unions were putting pressure on legislators and they were working to verify those reports.

Currently, SB 1968 is waiting to see if it gets referred to committee, at which time supporters and opponents of the bill will be able to offer testimony. A similar bill, HB 1749, has been filed in the House by State Rep. Gary Elkins (R-Houston).

Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this story.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.


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