Our state and local governments should not be acting as membership liaison for unions. Yet our state payroll office deducts money from employees’ paychecks — at their request — to pay their union dues. Last year alone, Louisiana paid close to $1 million to unions. This is allowed at the local level as well.

I’ve filed a bill this session to end this practice, HB418, telling unions to do their own legwork and collect their own dues.

I’m doing this for two reasons — first, because I think this practice is wrong and it has to stop. Second, because not many taxpayers even know of this activity, and it deserves a little sunshine. Because when my constituents get word that our state and local governments are using time and resources to cut checks to pay union dues for public employees, they’re appalled.

I’m all for freedom of speech. I’m all for the right to advocate for issues that matter to you. But when I want to be part of an organization, I send a check myself. If I’m unhappy with that organization, I cancel my membership.

Those annual dues are an expression of my continued support. And the fact that our government pays $1 million in union dues annually not only says that our state and local governments support union activities, it also pressures our public employees to join up and leaves unions unaccountable to their members.

That goes for any organization. But supporting unions in particular is problematic, especially in Louisiana.

Louisiana supports the Second Amendment. We support family values. We’re more traditional and conservative than the rest of the nation, yet the money our governments are funneling to these unions is being kicked up to national organizations to push positions on issues like birth control, gun restrictions, immigration, global warming, even the Affordable Care Act. Why should our state government be in the business of promoting organizations that promote issues and activities our taxpayers wouldn’t otherwise willingly support?

My bill is simple. It protects workers from paycheck deductions and gives public employees the freedom to choose whether or not they want to contribute to a union and fund union political activities.

Louisiana is not a pro-union state. So why do we cut pro-union paychecks? It’s time to end this inappropriate practice.

Stuart Bishop

state representative