After initially being introduced in October, an additional forty pages of content was added at the end of the 2015 legislative session. You might think that’s not such a big deal, but what is a big deal is that lawmakers had just fifteen minutes to read the additions and were told there were no major updates. That was not necessarily true.
The additions included a section that prohibits companies from collecting funds from its employees’ paychecks to support a union’s political action committees, often referred to as PAC or COPE.
Let’s break it down
- This prohibits a company, private or public, from allowing PAC or COPE contributions that will go directly to unions from being deducted via payroll.
- It doesn’t matter if the employee, union and company have a payroll deduction agreement, it is now illegal in Michigan to collect contributions this way.
A similar piece of legislation is pending in Pennsylvania, but is not expected to pass due to Gov. Tom Wolf.
Could this be the start of another trend that could state-by-state affect unions? Looking historically at Right-to-Work laws and attempts (some successful) to ban dues collection via payroll deduction, it’s absolutely possible.
How can I prepare?
So glad you asked! Perhaps taking the following three question assessment will help determine your next steps:
1. If legislation passes in your state to prevent PAC/COPE contributions being collected via payroll deductions, how would this impact you?
a) “We’re totally ready and prepared. Bring it on!”
b) “Um, there’s a chance we could lose funds, but we have some precautions and solutions in place”
c) “This would totally catch us off guard – yikes!”
2. Do you currently have an alternative way to collect these funds?
a) “Yes, we’re ready to go! The opposition can’t get us.”
b) “Eh, we could be a little more prepared”
c) “No we don’t, we’ve never had to worry about this before.”
d) “Ugh, can we talk about this later?”
3. Are you already researching new technology that could replace the payroll deduction process?
a) “We did our homework a long time ago”
b) “We do a little here and there when we have time”
c) “Are there even any other options out there?”
The best way to combat future pressure from lawmakers is to remove the power from legislative attacks. If you find your own solution that isn’t dependent on the employer to collect dues and political contributions, then the threat is easily extinguished. Unions can ensure the ball is in their court and control their own destiny.