The House Local Government II Committee was packed on the morning of Wednesday, June 17th when members debated the merits of SB 1271. This bill was being sold by lobbyists from the Firefighters’ Assn. and the Fraternal Order of Police as a simple way for these associations to collect dues through their members’ paychecks. This bill was about much more than that.
After passing through the NC Senate early during last session, the bill languished in the House Committee on State Personnel without a vote until the powers that be in the House pulled it from Personnel and sent it to the Local Government II Committee. The bill sponsor, Sen. John Snow (D-Cherokee) made this case that this bill was a way to support our fire and police officers by allowing them to do the same thing that the United Way does, payroll deduction.
Rep. Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) began to question the need for the measure and cited his experience as a town commissioner. Rep. Laura Wiley (R-Guilford) also sought explanations for the bill’s purpose.
Several local government advocacy groups then spoke against the measure, including the NC League of Municipalities, the NC Sheriff’s Assn. and the NC Assn. of Chiefs of Police. But, by far, the most direct and compelling argument against the bill was made by Paul Meyer of the NC Assn. of Counties who correctly pointed out that this bill was really a precursor towards giving public employees in North Carolina the power of collective bargaining. Sen. Snow took great exception to the mentioning of collective bargaining and appeared very agitated.
New people flee to North Carolina every year to escape the high taxes and poor economies of the Northeast that are dominated by public service unions that demand annual pay increases and threaten to strike if they don’t get what they want. A majority of representatives on the committee heard that message loud and clear and defeated the bill by a vote of 6-8.
Voting to allow the payroll deductions were Reps. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), Neslon Dollar (R-Wake), Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Earl Jones (D-Guilford), Jimmy Love (D-Lee) and Larry Womble (D-Forsyth).
Voting against allowing the payroll deductions were Reps. Lucy Allen (D-Franklin), Larry Brown (R-Forsyth), Phil Frye(R-Mitchell), Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), Mary McAllister (D-Cumberland), Fred Steen (R-Rowan), Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) and Laura Wiley (R-Guilford).
The reality is that employee associations can have their members set up bank drafts that automatically deduct dues from the members’ bank accounts without ever involving government. But, once you have inserted these wannabe unions between a worker and his paycheck, the line between voluntary participation and coercion begins to blur. What happens if you are the only member of your police dept. that does not have payroll deduction? Maybe you just need a little "talking" to to "get your mind right." Fortunately for North Carolina, on Wednesday morning, the Local Government II Committee was stacked with a number of members that remember their days on the city council or county commission and don’t want to make the jobs of their successors anymore difficult.