Don't let them silence our voices!

In an effort to silence the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and other public sector unions, bills have been introduced to strike at the unions’ source of funding.

The bills are clearly aimed at stopping us from taking a civil, principled stand against current anti-public education and anti-public services legislation.

HB 1023 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) would prohibit “any entity which engages in political activity from receiving public payroll withholdings or deductions.” HB 88 by Rep. Bob Hensgens (R-Abbeville) would limit the ways public sector unions can advocate for members.

Under current law, members of unions like ours can opt to pay their dues through payroll deduction. This is neither a special privilege nor a burden on taxpayers. It is a service that is available to credit unions, insurance companies and other recognized vendors, as well as unions.

Because most members of LFT and other public sector unions pay their dues through payroll deduction, these bills are obvious threat sto the very existence of advocacy organizations.

The bills' goal is to silence the voice of opposition. They are aimed at the LFT and other public sector unions that oppose attacks on professional educators, the wholesale privatization of public services, and the destruction of the public retirement systems.

Organizations that support these schemes are financed by deep-pocketed corporations and individuals. Their funding would not be affected by Rep. Seabaugh’s or Rep. Hensgens' bills.

Unions like the LFT represent the interests of workers who dedicate their professional lives to the children of the state. In a civil, professional manner, we bring their concerns to the legislature.

Freedom of speech and freedom of association are crucial to a representative form of government. Prohibiting the payroll deduction of union dues would stifle those freedoms and ultimately weaken our democracy.

HB 1023 and HB 88 have been assigned to the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs. Please take action now, and ask members to vote NO when these bills come before them.

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