KY House Passes Anti-Union Bill Limiting Public Employee Payroll Deductions

Frankfort, Ky.–Kentucky House of Representatives have approved Senate Bill 7, which restricts some types of payroll deductions for public employees. The bill would prevent public employees, except for first responders, from deducting union dues or dues from other organizations from their paychecks. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, and supported by Rep. Josh Bray, R-Mount Vernon, who presented it on the House floor.

Bray explained that under SB 7, public employees would still be allowed to be a part of unions or other organizations and contribute to collective bargaining agreements, but the bill would sever the relationship between the government payroll system and the union. Bray further argued that several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled that there is no constitutional right to a payroll deduction system for political fundraising.

However, the bill has drawn criticism from some lawmakers. Rep. Ashley Tackett Laferty, D-Martin, spoke in favor of payroll deductions on the House floor, saying that if lawmakers truly want to protect the paychecks of hardworking Kentuckians, they will vote to allow them to use the money that they earn in the way they want to spend it. Similarly, Rep. Kim Banta, R-Fort Mitchell, attempted to amend the bill to remove the emergency clause and set the effective date to July 1, 2024. Unfortunately, the amendment failed.

Despite opposition from some lawmakers, the bill has been passed by the Kentucky House of Representatives and will now go back to the Senate for concurrence. If the bill becomes law, payroll deductions could continue until existing agreements have expired. The sponsors say the bill exempted law enforcement, fire, and EMS due to the hazardous nature of their profession.

For pro-union and pro-labor groups, this bill is seen as a significant blow to unions as it would weaken their financial position by restricting payroll deductions for public employees. Many supporters of unions believe that this bill undermines their right to collect dues, and could weaken the bargaining power of workers who rely on unions for representation.

Photo: Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, presents Senate Bill 7, an act related to the administration of state payroll systems. (LRC PIO)