House Bill 2023 has passed in the House and is currently under consideration in the Senate. The bill is called “paycheck protection” by its proponents, but “paycheck deception” or simply “muzzle the unions” by the public employees who are actually targeted by it.
On its surface, this legislation bans paycheck deductions for union dues and political action. In reality it goes much deeper, essentially stripping public sector unions (including my own Kansas National Education Association) of all 1st Amendment rights in the political arena. Here is a direct quote from the bill:
“It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income, including any income in the form of or derived from any dues, fees, assessments or any other periodic payments, directly or indirectly, to engage in political activities.”
Clearly this is unconstitutional; especially in light of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010), which affirmed the right of corporations and labor unions to spend their own money for political activities.
So how do proponents justify such legislation? They simply claim that public employees, and by extension public employee unions, don’t really own their income. These people imply that the government still owns this money even after it is paid to employees; and even after some employees choose to pass it on to their unions.
Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argued that “muzzle the unions” legislation is necessary because teachers and other public employees receive tax dollars; and then lobby for policies that taxpayers don’t want.
As a public school teacher, I have a contract with my employer in which I agree to give my time and talents in exchange for salary. I earn my salary – after I’m paid, it’s MY money. The only taxpayer it belongs to is ME. (Yes, Ms. Wagle, public employees are taxpayers too).
As Senate president, Ms. Wagle is also a public employee. I’m sure she spends plenty of her salary on things I don’t approve of. But I am adult enough and educated enough to understand that how she spends her own money is none of my business.
Likewise, how I spend my own money is nobody else’s business. Ms. Wagle knows this full well, but she and her ilk desperately want to deny public employees equal participation in the political process. The problem is they have no logical or legal basis for doing so. Undeterred by logic or law, the Wagle clan degenerates to the ridiculous notion that public employees don’t have ownership of their own their income.
I’ve always been a wee bit rebellious. If someone tries to stop me from doing something I have every right to do – like spending my own money however I see fit – I just redouble my efforts. In honor of Senator Wagle, I’d like to coin a new term for this reaction: Wagling.
Fellow public employees and union brethren, Senator Wagle says OUR money isn’t really ours. She says we can’t peaceably assemble, pool our money, and spend it on political activity. Let’s take this “paycheck deception” nonsense and Wagle it. Let’s double our contributions to pro-union, pro-worker political causes.