The Dallas Morning News
Dues not used for political purposes; stopping the payments is as easy as filling out a form, Micah Haley says
The issue of union dues and payroll deduction for public employees is a subject I know a thing or two about. I am currently a unit supervisor in Texas Department of Criminal Justice parole division and have been a state employee for 20 years. Nineteen years ago, I voluntarily authorized the Texas State Employees Union to deduct monthly membership dues from my paycheck.
To join, I filled out a simple membership form that explained exactly how much my dues would be and what I was authorizing and for whom. I also knew full well that if I wanted to cancel my membership and stop having those dues deducted from paycheck, I could do so at any time by simply filling out another form. Contrary to Attorney General Kan Paxton’s claims, there were no bureaucratic roadblocks involved.
Through my 19 years of union membership, I have advocated not just for myself and my co-workers, but also for the public that depends on us to keep them safe and the parolees we work with every day. The union is how my coworkers and I engage with our elected leaders on the issues we face as state employees and public servants.
This advocacy costs taxpayers nothing, contrary to the whopper that state funds were financing the collection of dues money. This myth has been so thoroughly debunked that supporters of this legislation have already stopped making the claim, admitting the cost is negligible.
Paxton managed to personally insult me when he claimed first responders should be allowed to keep payroll deduction of dues. As a parole officer, I have worked with ex-felons on a daily basis for the last 20 years. I have spent most of my adult life protecting the public from danger. And parole officers are not unique among state workers in this. Caseworkers with Child Protective Services, employees in state hospitals and state-supported living centers, corrections officers in state jails and youth detention centers, we all put our safety on the line every day as we go to work for the people of Texas. Who is Paxton to say that our voices aren’t worthy to be heard in the Legislature? We should have the same rights afforded other public employees.
Another false claim put forward by Paxton is that my dues go to political purposes I am unaware of. Let me set him straight: Union dues are never used for political or campaign contributions of any kind. Our union has a separate fund for that, which I voluntarily contribute to completely apart from my membership dues.
Our union is a grass-roots organization controlled by state employees through a democratic process. I am an elected leader of my union, representing North Texas on our executive board, which comprises other full-time state employees and retirees. The leadership of our union, along with our endorsements, and how we spend our resources is all decided on upon by our dues-paying members through frequent elections and membership meetings.
When Paxton, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other politicians attack public employee unions, they are really attacking me and my fellow state employees. We are the union, and no one should tell me how to spend my hard-earned money.