Unions Brace for Attacks from MT Legislature
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
HELENA, Mont. -- Montana lawmakers are mounting attacks on unions in this session.
Montana is among the 23 states that has not adopted so-called "right-to-work" laws, which says non-union members don't have to pay dues, even though the union continues to represent them in negotiations.
Senate Bill 89, which had a hearing on Monday, would do that, as well as prohibit unions from deducting dues directly from workers' wages.
Amanda Curtis, president of the Montana Federation of Public Employees (MFPE), said the bill would hurt members of her union, including police officers, teachers and nurses.
"All of the folks who are working really hard to provide the unemployment services that Montanans are using during this pandemic; other public assistance, job service, criminal investigators," Curtis outlined. "It's such a punch in the gut to such a wide swath of Montana's essential workers."
Supporters of the bill claimed it's necessary to prevent union dues from going to political causes. Curtis denied workers' dues go toward political campaigns. MFPE has nearly 25,000 members in the state.
Curtis added the bills attack workers who have been on the front line of the pandemic for ten months.
"To attack them right now is just the oddest choice," Curtis asserted. "I have no idea why they would choose to do that."
Curtis believes it is an extreme measure.
"There's no reason for the government to get in between an employer's relationship with their employee," Curtis concluded.
Other bills to target unions also are in the Legislature, including a measure requiring members to submit written consent every year saying they want to continue being part of their union.
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