Contentious union dues bill heads to full Texas Senate

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — A hotly debated bill barring voluntary payroll deductions of union dues from state employee paychecks is going to the full Texas Senate. Republican Sen. Joan Huffman heads the powerful State Affairs Committee, which approved 6-2 her proposal Thursday.

Senate Bill 13 doesn’t weaken union collective bargaining abilities like the much-watched proposal advancing in Iowa’s Legislature, or Wisconsin’s 2011 bill, which was approved amid sweeping protests. Still, Texas labor groups bitterly oppose Huffman’s proposal.

“Teachers are a large group, and we’re a vocal group, they would like to silence us,” said Kristel Sexton, president of the Amarillo Association of Texas Professional Educators. Sexton predicts the organization would lose about half of their members if lawmakers pass SB 13. ATPE says automatic payroll deduction is the easiest way for teachers pay their dues. “It allows the teachers to spread the payments out over the entire year, making them very much smaller and they come out when they get paid,” said Byron Hildebrand, state secretary for ATPE.

Even some Republicans have questioned its exemption of police and firefighter pay, as well as its singling out unions while still allowing payroll deductions for charities. Huffman counters that business groups support her bill, though it only applies to public sector employees.

A similar measure cleared the Texas Senate last session, but died in House committee.

 

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