Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another bill opposed by unions introduced as House gears up for debate on paycheck measure

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

As the Kansas House prepares to debate one anti-union bill, another anti-union bill was introduced Tuesday.

The newest measure is House Bill 2123 and is called the "public employees freedom act."

It is nearly identical to "model legislation" developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate backed group that describes its mission as promoting free markets, limited government, federalism and individual freedom “through a non-partisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government and general public.”

Colin Curtis, who works for the United Steelworkers of America, Local 307, tweeted that HB 2123 "Strips public employees of all collective bargaining rights."

Working Kansas Alliance said the measure would prohibit public workers, police and firefighters from bargaining to improve their wages and working conditions.

The bill's introduction comes as the House gears up for a debate Wednesday on House Bill 2023.

That bill would prohibit the Kansas National Education Association from taking voluntary paycheck donations from teachers and using those funds for political advocacy.

Supporters of HB 2023 said teachers were being coerced into signing over funds for political campaigning.

Opponents of the measure denied that allegation and said the bill would make it more difficult for teachers and the state employee organization from participating in the political process.

The bill drew fire nationwide from labor advocates when Eric Stafford, a lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, told a House committee, "I need this bill passed so we can get rid of public sector unions."