Bad trade deals, unsafe Mexican trucks, right to work and a host of other issues may be threatening the existence of the American middle class, but there are bright spots on the legislative front.
In early 2013, legislation was passed in Missouri that would forbid employers from honoring public employees’ requests to deduct their union dues from their paychecks—something called “paycheck deception.” This bill was pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an anti-worker group that has been pushing right to work and other legislation harmful to the American middle class.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, though, after Teamsters worked to educate their friends, family, neighbors and their representatives about what the bill actually does. Members sent thousands of letters and emails to their state representatives urging them to not vote for a blatant attempt to weaken unions.
“This was just another billionaire-backed attack on working families, only this one failed,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.
Gov. Nixon gets why the bill was bad. In his veto message, he said, “The bill targets a single group of employees and imposes on them an unnecessary and cumbersome process… There are a number of items that employees may elect to have withheld from their paychecks, including money for college savings accounts, deferred compensation, and 401(k) plans…Singling out union dues for these extra processes serves no beneficial purpose. Rather, the bill places unnecessary burdens on public employees for the purpose of weakening labor organizations.”
Paycheck deception bills have been popping up in state legislatures all over the country. They’re part of ALEC’s continuing effort to muscle the working class out of politics and government. The Teamsters will continue fighting these efforts wherever they pop up.
In another Teamster victory at the state level, California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that scraps the state’s $750-million-ayear bad-business boondoggle known as the enterprise zone program.
The program killed scores of good-paying union jobs to create minimum-wage jobs elsewhere in the state. California Teamsters have long opposed enterprise zones.
By signing this bill that Teamsters supported, Californians can now be more secure that corporations won’t move their plant and eliminate their jobs just to pad their bottom lines.
In place of enterprise zones, the law establishes the Governor’s Economic Development Initiative. A statewide sales tax exemption will apply to manufacturing equipment or research and development equipment purchases for biotech and manufacturing companies.
“This is a great moment for the state’s workers and for California Teamsters,” said Doug Bloch, Political Director for San Francisco’s Joint Council 7, who witnessed the signing.
Under the new program, money that was originally directed toward companies like Walmart and FedEx to create minimum-wage jobs will now go to manufacturers who create new jobs that pay at least $12 an hour. Hiring credits could go to Teamster employers in food processing, dairy, breweries, beverage and more.
And employers who want to transfer jobs now need to offer people the right to move with their job at their current rate of pay.