Dues deduction in danger; part-timer bill passes

House Bill 2011, which will eliminate the 1,000-hour limit for part-time employees to be exempt from civil service protections, passed the Senate on unanimous vote today (Monday). As it was amended from the House version, the bill goes back to the House for its approval.

As we mentioned last week, this bill almost guarantees abuses by state agencies. Workers may be employed at nearly full time, or temporarily at full-time hours, and those workers will be ineligible for benefits and the ability to file grievances.

In perhaps worse news, HB 2009, which now would completely ban the state from collecting and forwarding elective dues deductions for unions and employee organizations, passed the amendment stage and advanced to 3rd Reading, the final passage stage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee altered the original House bill with a “strike-and-insert” amendment calling for the total ban, inserting this language multiple times: “No deductions or assignment of earnings shall be allowed for union, labor organization, or club dues or fees from the compensation of officers or employees covered by this section.”

The House version, passed February 17 by a 99-0 vote, was bad enough. It would allow employees to request deductions on a form developed by the Secretary of State, and the authorization would be renewed annually.

Currently, most of our members opt for dues deduction by signature, and it remains in effect until the employee ends the deduction or leaves state employment. We see no problem with that system.

This bill is a blatant attempt to hamper or even kill all unions representing state employees, teachers and school service personnel. Senator Mike Romano, who represents Harrison, Lewis, Braxton, Clay and part of Gilmer County, offered an amendment to ease the legislation, stressing the importance of teacher and public-sector associations such as UE Local 170. The amendment failed on a 20-14 vote.

If the bill passes Tuesday, the Senate and the House would have to resolve the differences in its version and both houses would have to vote on any compromise version.

We ask you as always: Contact your senator or delegate, and tell them these bills are wrong and harmful. We need your help.

We have our eyes on a number of other bills, including SB 601, which has not been taken up by the Senate Judiciary — yet. Senator Patricia Rucker, who represents Jefferson and part of Berkeley County, sponsors this bill, which has a single committee reference. (Most bills get a double reference.)

To recap, this bill would:

  • Force employees to have their grievances notarized before filing.
  • Allow state agencies to file a Motion to Dismiss at any time. The chief administrator or administrative law judge have 10 days to either issue a ruling or schedule a hearing on the motion, which would prolong an already-interminable process.
  • Potentially force grievants to pay their employers legal expenses. To quote that: “upon motion by a prevailing respondent, the grievant may be ordered to pay the respondent’s reasonable actual attorney fees and actual costs if the administrative law judge finds that the grievance lacked substantial justification; the grievance was not brought in good faith; or that the grievance was brought with malice or wrongful purpose, including, but not limited to, delay or harassment.”
Other bills we are tracking:
  • Senate Bill 272, which would create more opportunities for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, passed the Senate again, and is being sent to the governor. The bill has been reported on in depth by Mountain State Spotlight.
  • HB 2590, a bill similar to SB 272, will be introduced on the House floor on Tuesday.
  • HB 2626, which would close Lakin, Withrow, and Hopemont hospitals, plus the Manchin Senior Care Center, has passed one committee and resides in the House Finance Committee. One delegate, Danielle Walker, a Democrat from Morgantown, has told us she will vote against the bill.
  • The bill that would essentially privatize the Department of Highways, HB 2720, is in the Workforce Development Committee, the first of two committee references.
  • SB 7: Limits political activity by public employees. That passed the Senate 34-0, and is in the House Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 11: Declaring work stoppage or strike by public employees to be unlawful. That has passed both houses and has been sent to the governor.
  • SB 39: Prohibiting insurers (including PEIA) to require preauthorization for tests to stage cancer, effective July 1, 2022. The bill passed the Senate 33-0, and is in the House Health and Human Resources Committee.

The following bills are in committee and have not been taken up:

  • SB 245: Providing 11-month window to allow PERS members to purchase service credit. That bill is in committee and has not been taken up.
  • HB 2117: Provides certain employees in the DOH increases in annual pay. That bill is in committee and has not been taken up.
  • HB 2142: Establishing seniority rights for public employees. That bill is in committee and has not been taken up.

We need your help in lobbying for helpful bills and against negative bills. Here is the House roster and the Senate rosters. You may e-mail Gov. Justice or call (304) 558-2000.

If you have questions or want us to track a certain bill, e-mail to info@uelocal170.org.