CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Limits on uses of wages for political activities by employers and labor organizations along with required consents for uses of paycheck withholdings are part of a bill the West Virginia Senate is sending to the House of Delegates.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved SB 239 with a 21-12 vote.
“This bill is not intended to and does not, in any way, interfere with any employee’s ability to join an organization, to pay dues to it or anything else,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Trump (R-Morgan, 15).
In general, the bill requires the written request of an employee, via a form, before dues for an organization can be withheld from paychecks. That request would have to be submitted annually.
An additional part of the bill mandates written consent from employees if the withheld dollars are to be used for political purposes.
Senator Mike Romano (D-Harrison, 21) argued the bill was not needed.
“Labor unions already do what the law’s requiring. Under the federal law, they’ve always had a checkoff for political contributions as opposed to their regular union dues, so it’s kind of redundant,” he said.
He said, if the bill, becomes law it will have a wide reach.
“It’s going to require every employer, whether you have union employees or not, to go and get a certification every year for any deduction, other than the normal tax deductions that are always coming out of your paychecks,” Romano said.
An attempt from Senator John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16) to refer the bill to the Senate Finance Committee for review of potential costs failed on a 12-21 vote.
“We have plenty to do in Finance now,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Mike Hall (R-Putnam, 04). He said he did not believe the bill needed a fiscal note.
On Tuesday, the Senate advanced SB 224 which, if approved, would repeal the requirement for employer’s bonds for wages and benefits in the construction and extraction industries.
It’s not clear what will happen with both bills in the state House of Delegates with just more than 30 days remaining in the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.