While Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin move in the opposite direction, Maryland Democrats are shoring up union strength in their state, Fox News reports:
Maryland lawmakers agreed this week to require public school teachers to pay union fees – a move that bolsters the state’s connection to organized labor as others move toward a right-to-work status.
The bill passed Thursday in the General Assembly and is headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley for signing after Monday, the final day of Maryland’s 2013 legislative session.
The bill is also part of a larger progressive agenda put forth this year by leaders of the Democrat-controlled Assembly that includes the approval of tax increases and one of the toughest gun-control proposals in the country.
The law will require the teachers to pay about 1 percent of their paychecks to unions to cover costs associated with collective bargaining. Most Maryland public employees are already required to pay dues to unions but their were gaps in the law. Proponents of the legislation argued they were just trying to make state law uniform — a law was pushed by Big Labor in the first place:
The new Maryland legislation is an extension of 2009 legislation passed by the Assembly — at the request of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – that requires all state workers except teachers to pay the fees.
Right now, teachers in Baltimore City and nine of the state’s 23 counties already pay the fee, as do all other state employees including prison guards and state troopers.
[Maryland State Teachers Association legislative affairs director Sean] Johnson also said the fees are not automatic and will be decided during future contract negotiations between the union and local school boards. The fees will not go toward political activities and workers are not being forced to join the union, he also said.
The idea behind such laws is that without them the workers become “free riders” who get the benefit of the higher wages from the union’s negotiations without having to pay dues.
But it also takes away the worker’s choice to decide whether they want to belong to the union in the first place. As a GOP lawmaker told Fox: “If the representation is so exceptional, then everybody would join.”