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Public Unions Oppose Bill Banning Member Paycheck Deductions

Sen. Keith Regier peaks into a microphone while a woman looks on.
Montana Public Affairs Network
Republican Sen. Keith Regier introduces Senate Bill 89 to the Senate State Administration Committee on Jan. 25, 2020.

A Montana lawmaker introduced a bill Monday that would require public unions, not employers, to collect dues from members. Union representatives oppose the bill.

Senate Bill 89 would bar public employers from deducting dues from a union member’s paycheck.

Republican Sen. Keith Regier of Kalispell said the proposal aligns Montana with the spirit of a watershed 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision saying public employees don’t have to pay dues to unions that collectively bargain on worker’s behalf.

“To have union dues as withholding can give the impression that it’s also mandatory to belong to a union," Regier said.

The bill hearing featured one proponent, a lobbyist for the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity Montana. More than two dozen public and private union representatives testified in opposition to the bill.

Montana Federation of Public Employees President Amanda Curtis said public employers use automated deductions for various other non-mandatory payments, including to utilities, charities and auto loan providers.

The Senate State Administration Committee hasn’t yet scheduled a vote on Senate Bill 89.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America statehouse reporter.