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Missouri governor vetoes bill aimed at restricting union dues

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon participates in a debate with David Spence at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, Missouri, September
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon participates in a debate with David Spence at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, Missouri, September

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would force unions in the state to get written permission before withholding dues from paychecks of public employees.

Approved by the Republican-dominated state House and Senate, the bill also would require member consent before union dues could be used for political purposes.

The governor could be overruled by a two-thirds vote of both legislative chambers when they next meet in September. The bill passed the Missouri Senate 24-10, but the vote was closer in the House, 85-69.

The Missouri law is the latest of a number passed or considered by Republican-led states to restrict unions. The most prominent was in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker two years ago successfully imposed severe restrictions on public sector unions. The measures prompted thousands of people to protest.

In a statement accompanying his veto, Missouri's Nixon said public employees already have numerous voluntary withholdings from their paychecks, such as for 401k and college savings plans, and can opt out of the union dues withholding if they choose.

Nixon said the bill would require employees to annually fill out two separate forms if they want the dues withheld and if they approved their use for political purposes.

"Singling out union dues for these extra processes serves no beneficial purpose," Nixon stated. "Rather, the bill places unnecessary burdens on public employees for the purpose of weakening labor organizations."

(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Editing by Greg McCune and Carol Bishopric)

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