Or in this case, Brad Tschida of House District 97 in Missoula. Think back to the first blizzard of 2019 in February and the only ‘Right to Work’ bill to be brought forward in the 66th Legislative session. Despite the nasty road conditions, Montana’s union fans showed up in force to oppose the bill and outnumbered any proponents who dared sign in let alone testify.
Back to the here and now. Whatever happened to Tschida’s baby, House Bill 323? Well, it’s been amended plenty and now watered down to reflect just one thing and what is already the law of the land as a result of the Janus case. Today and as amended, Big Bad Brad’s bill contains nothing more than a statute change to make clear that public sector unions can no longer charge a representation fee and make paying that fee a condition of employment. Once amended the bill actually garnered the support of organized labor in an effort to clarify the law and represent the reality of public employee representation. MFPE President Eric Feaver cleverly worked the system to hack out the ugly garbage and true Right to Work-ish language in the bill and then actually advocated for passage on Tschida’s behalf. Strange bed fellows to say the least and certainly unintended. Not to worry, Tschida will still be sure to wear his signature scowl whenever he stares down a union lobbyist.
So now some oddities in the whole process. After the bill was amended, and even though it left a foul taste in their mouths, union leaders were fine with the bill. A reversal of the Janus decision will be a long time in coming and likely not in any of their lifetimes. Those same leaders even went so far to ask their so called friends to vote for the bill and reassured them it would not be held against them. ‘I just can’t vote for a right to work bill, I just can’t!’ was the response. Gee, thanks. That’s comforting. But about those privatization bills related to the State Fund and private pre-k, could they hold that same standard to those? Nope, that herd of cats can’t be corralled. It’s enough to make one do at least a few head shakes, but certainly shouldn’t create too much a rift between the check writers at the union and the check takers in the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, it was an undecipherable precursor of things to come.
As for Tschida and his lost cause, he’s been bested by the longest serving President of either an NEA or AFT state affiliate. And yet his bill still passed, albeit that it lingers on the desk of the Governor who has yet to sign off. More of that ‘I just can’t do it’ act. Well, given the circumstances today he just may have signed off on the bill as proposed.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’