Teachers — March 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Michigan Republicans pass anti-union bill that saves no money simply to harass unions


What’s the polite phrase for “dick move”?

This past week, Michigan Republicans passed House Bill 4929 that prohibits school districts from doing automatic deductions from teachers’ paychecks to pay for their union dues. It was touted as a cost-saving measure by some. How much will it save?

See, that’s the thing: Nothing.

According to the most recent Senate Fiscal Analysis:

The bill would have no fiscal impact on the State.

Local: The bill likely would not result in either net costs or savings to districts. Payroll deductions for union dues are automated in the vast majority of districts. The removal of existing deductions from payroll systems would take some administrative staff time, but on the other hand, districts would be able to eliminate the processing of future dues from the automated payroll systems.

In other words, it might actually cost something for them to go through the hassle of stopping the deductions which most already do.

That didn’t stop Representative Andrea LaFontaine from claiming she was forced to vote for it because of the cost savings however:

LaFontaine said the decision was more complicated for her, but she chose to support the bill because of the promised savings. “At the end of the day, it’s my job to stand up for hardworking taxpayers and their money,” she said.

Uh, you get paid to do this job, Ms. LaFontaine? Honestly, we have an entire office set up inside our state government to crunch the numbers for you. You don’t even have to do it yourself. Hell, if you’re that lazy, you could have one of your staffers pull it up on their iPhone and read it to you. The fiscal analysis has been available since last November. Actually, there was one done in September, too, that said:

The bill would have no significant fiscal impact on school districts. Individual school districts would likely only see a minimal savings from this change. The process for payroll deductions for union dues and service fees is largely automated, so there is very little work school districts must go through on a regular basis. Moreover, some collective bargaining agreements provide that the union is to reimburse (at least in part) the school district for administering a payroll deduction. There could be some initial work, if the bill were enacted, to process that change, but any ongoing savings would be minimal.

In other words, same analysis.

When this was brought up last September, GOP Representative Joe Haveman said:

I don’t understand how giving people money back in their paycheck is a bad thing. It makes them more accountable. It’s better if they have to make that conscious decision on a monthly basis [to pay their union dues.]

Haverman was hilariously smacked down by Democratic Represenative Lisa Brown who asked about charitable giving via his paycheck.

Democratic Representative Lisa Brown of West Bloomfield asked Mr. Haveman if the state should remove the option legislators have to donate a portion of their paycheck to charitable organizations, or if he just had a problem with automatic deductions going to unions. It’s a fair question given that this is a convenience provided to legislators. His response? He said he hadn’t thought of that.

I’m sure we’ll have a bill before the Legislature any day now prohibiting the state from deducting charitable donations from the lawmakers’ paychecks.

Because, as everyone knows, it’s better if they have to make that conscious decision on a monthly basis.

At least one Republican gets it, according to the article: Representative Paul Muxlow:

Muxlow said the bill was “provocative.”

“I didn’t see it as very important with our mission of saving money for the state,” he said. “I couldn’t find that it would save a little or even any money. It was just provocative and I’m not looking to be involved in a problem along that line.”

Watch it, pal. That’ll get you thrown out of the caucus in a tea party second if you don’t watch your language. Especially when you’re talking to someone from the Lamestream Media™.

But, he’s right. It IS provocative. Also, given that it sat in committee in the Senate for months (since September 2011) and then got voted on the very next day after the roll out of the Protect Our Jobs petition drive, it’s pretty clearly a retaliatory thumb in the eye to unions by Republicans that are tired of people fighting back. As Protect Our Jobs spokesperson Zack Pohl said, “Fast-tracking a bill that would punish school teachers, bus drivers and construction workers who took action to protect collective bargaining by placing burdensome restrictions on them is clear evidence of retribution.” Protect Our Jobs is the initiative to pass a constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining in Michigan.

If you are a union member, you had better start making plans to get involved very soon with some group working to get out the vote in November. If you don’t, your days as a union member are numbered, especially if you are a public employee. Need some suggestions? Email me.