Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Update on S.B. 5

The Ohio House is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 5 today, the collective bargaining law, after amendments and discussion yesterday.

One of the amendments that was passed included this one relating to the automatic payroll deduction for political contributions:

No public employer shall agree to a provision that provides for the payroll deduction for any contributions to a political action committee using any other method than the method prescribed in sections 3517.082, 3517.09, and 3599.031 of the Revised Code.

This is good news for union members, but bad for the unions themselves. Currently, union members do not have to contribute to the political action committees of their unions, but some (not all) include that as part of the dues structure. Members who don't want to participate can request a refund of the amount of their dues not spent directly on their representation but, fortunately for the unions, many individual members do not realize this and don't ask for the refunds.

According to the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, which supported the amendment:

Ohio previously prohibited such automatic payroll deductions. In 1998, a state court of appeals struck the prohibition on First Amendment grounds. However, in 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court explained that such scrutiny is not appropriate: "while in some contexts the government must accommodate expression, it is not required to assist others in funding the expression of particular ideas, including political ones."

Again, this is good news for union members who won't have to fund political candidates and causes they don't support.

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