Yep, that’s right. It’s legislative day 16 and Montana’s unions will face a second anti union bill in the afternoon. Queuing up today is Senate Bill 89 sponsored by union hater Keith Reiger as part of his long game of killing labor in Montana. Just four days ago Bill Mercer had his time in committee to present his poorly written and baseless bill which he believes fully implements the Janus decision based on AG opinions in three out of fifty states. Bill must have a very low bar if that’s what he believes sets a standard, or maybe it’s really Billings that has the low bar if he’s what they send to represent them.
For the last few decades organized labor in Montana has had it pretty easy in terms of union busting legislation. Schweitzer and Bullock committed to oppose any right to work legislation with a simple ‘of course’ and in fact Bullock took it so far that he refused to sign a bill in his last session that would have simply codified the Janus in Montana law. The union bosses asked him to sign off on HB 323, but there was drama to be had by not signing, so he didn’t and here we are today. While it wouldn’t have prevented the onslaught by the Reiger clan, it certainly would have eliminated one point of contention and confusion. In the end, the favor really wasn’t a favor.
Back to those years gone by. Union leaders, and by default, union members, had little to worry about when it came to union hating legislators because there was either a veto pen waiting at the end of the trail as the ultimate threat or a bill simply would never make it out of the committee room for the floor or either chamber. From day one of this session that has not been the case. While those solutions republicans have valued their union relationships, they can only hit the red button so many times before finding themselves in someone’s crosshairs. It’s all fair game and anyone’s guess as to which bill lands on the governor’s desk for signature. Given that Mr. Burns, errr, Governor Gianforte, has never met with any labor union to answer questions about his position on right to work, it’s all a guess if he signs or not. While he did recently take the opportunity to call out his support for workers in his statement on the keystone pipeline, he, of course, stopped short on recognizing the union jobs therein.
So later today all those union leaders will line up again, but this time to a very different approach. The word is that Reiger doesn’t like union dues being spent on politicians like himself. He’s right and he’s wrong, of course. He’s right in that union dues do get spent on him or rather against him. Like any entity that operates in the political world, unions have the right to communicate with their members and in this particular case they did. Reiger is not on the ‘vote for’ list and for obvious reasons. And of course he is wrong, unions cannot directly contribute to a political campaign unless they use funds voluntarily donated by members for that specific purpose. Fine lines right? No matter to the Reiger clan because the only good union, is a dead union.
While his legislation doesn’t directly kill the operation of a union, it definitely allows the bao constrictor to make one more coil to slowly choke the life out of Montana’s public employee unions. The Montana AFL-CIO boasts a membership of 45,000 working Montana members in it’s ranks with about 35,000 of those dues payers being in the public sector. If Reiger and his ilk can kill the MFPE and others with his bad bill, he won’t have to work on the private sector unions, they’ll die of starvation in the end. Remember sisters and brothers, an injury to one is an injury to all.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’