- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators fell one vote short of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto early Friday morning after a Democrat withdrew her support of changing how public-sector unions collect dues.

The bill would have required public employees to annually reauthorize paying their union dues and fees through paycheck withholdings, rather than allowing automatic withholdings. Its defeat marks the second year in a row that Republican leaders have failed to leverage their supermajorities in both chambers to pass labor legislation over the objections of Nixon, a Democrat.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City was the sole Democratic senator to support the bill when it first passed in March, giving lawmakers the minimum number of votes that would have been necessary to override a veto.

The bill would have exempted first responders, such as firefighters and police, from the annual reauthorization requirement. It also called for unions that include public employees to make five years of financial records - including spending, loans and officers’ salaries - available to any worker they represent. If the organization did not, the worker could sue.

Opponents said the measure was an attempt by Republicans to weaken unions in order to shift power from workers to employers.

Supporters, who called the measure “paycheck protection,” countered that labor leaders have become disengaged from the people they represent, and workers would benefit from more union transparency.

But Chappelle-Nadal, who is black, said her initial support of the bill stemmed from unions’ mistreatment of minorities. And she gave little indication before the override vote that her view had changed.

She said she has tried to bring her concerns to union leaders, but she was rebuffed and her efforts instigated union members to call her sexist and racial slurs.

“How many more decades - or centuries - do we have to wait?” she said before the vote. “Someone has to stand up. Someone has to say something. And change has to happen.”

The House voted to override the veto last week, drawing exactly enough votes with the support from Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, another Democrat who criticized unions for not welcoming black workers.

Senate Democrats filibustered the measure for more than three-and-a-half hours Thursday before letting it come to a vote shortly after midnight.

Republican Senators Ryan Silvey of Kansas City, who initially supported the bill, and Gary Romine of Farmington joined Democrats in a 22-10 vote to block the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

Republican Sen. Paul Wieland of Imperial voted against the measure in March but supported the override.

Chappelle-Nadal said unions are taking her concerns more seriously now, “but what hurts is they took so long.” She said her relationship with union leaders is still new, and her support is not a given.

“I’m taking everything on a case-by-case basis from here on out,” she told reporters in her office after the vote.

St. Louis Sen. Jamilah Nasheed urged her to come take a picture with union representatives in the hall, saying “Maria, you’re a celebrity.”

Chappelle-Nadal had a staffer usher her out of the office.

“Call security. I don’t want them in here,” she said.

___

Union fees bill is HB 1891.

Online:

Legislature: http://www.moga.mo.gov

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