Republicans for Limited Government Should Vote ‘No’ on Proposition 3
By JOHN RIDDLE
Normally dedicated to limited government and opposed to government overreach, the Republican Party of Texas is making a serious mistake with Proposition 3 in the upcoming primary.
Proposition 3 on the primary ballot endorses blatant government overreach in an effort to dictate whether firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public employees can deduct money from their paychecks for employee associations.
As president of the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, I represent a majority of the professional firefighters in the state of Texas. A majority of our members are conservative, and we support Republicans and others with pro-public safety records.
We believe Proposition 3 is an attempt to undermine the Republican Party and its ideals from within by extremist advocacy group Empower Texans and others. The group is misleading voters about the proposition to advance its broader political agenda. Worse, Texas firefighters fear this governmental overreach could affect the stability of our fire departments and associations.
Empower Texans and its surrogates claim that association dues are deducted from public employee paychecks even if the employees are not members. This is false. Texas is a right-to-work state. No person can be forced to join an employee association or a union as a condition of employment. Public employees that are members of a union make that choice voluntarily.
Proposition 3 proponents further claim that payroll dues deduction is mandatory for all union members. This is false. Association or union members can choose to have payroll deduction of their dues and if so, must submit a signed request to their employer instructing them to do so. They may also cease that deduction at any time using the same process.
The proposition proponents also suggest that payroll deduction of association and union dues costs the taxpayers money. This is false. State law allows for employers to pass on any costs associated with payroll deduction to the employee. The truth is, the cost is minimal because it requires just a few computer keyboard strokes – much like a 401k deduction. Some cities charge five cents per transaction.
With firefighters, these deductions go to ensuring we have the best protective gear and equipment and the safest working conditions possible. They are also used to recruit the best candidates available by making sure pay and benefits are competitive. Better, experienced firefighters provide value to their departments – and better stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
The false idea has been spread that these dues are used to organize massive campaigns to unionize janitorial services in Houston. This would mean that public sector firefighter association dues were being directed at private sector issues that have nothing to do with them. This is a red herring and makes little sense. The small amount of money these associations receive is barely enough to perform the services they currently offer.
Now that you know the truth, and the law, we ask voters in the Republican primary to maintain the status quo of limited government and vote no on Republican Party Platform Proposition 3.
Voting no lets hard-working firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public employees choose what they do with their paychecks – and it keeps Austin bureaucrats from unnecessarily interfering in our workplaces.
A 30-year firefighter, John Riddle is president of the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters.