City of Charlotte workers may soon have the right to have union dues deducted directly from their paycheck, a change that local unions have long desired.
The City Councils governmental affairs committee approved by a 4-1 vote the automatic payroll deduction or union dues checkoff Monday afternoon. The issue will go before the entire council this coming Monday.
I always want to make our city workers happy, said Beth Pickering, a Democrat who voted for the automatic deductions. It seems like a modest concession a small thing to ask. Its easier to have money taken out rather than to get it ourselves.
The city already allows employees to make automatic payroll deductions for some charities like United Way.
In addition to Pickering, Democrats Patrick Cannon, James Mitchell and Claire Fallon supported the automatic deductions. Republican Andy Dulin voted no.
The United Electrical Workers Local 150 has been trying to recruit city workers, particularly those in the sanitation department.
The union has pushed for the automatic deductions as part of a so-called Workers Bill of Rights it has presented to the city. It held protests before the City Council last year and also lobbied for the deductions during the Democratic National Convention in September.
No city worker would be required to join a union. And by state law, the city of Charlotte and municipalities cant bargain collectively with unions.
Former City Manager Curt Walton, who retired Friday, didnt support the payroll change.
But the issue has gained support among council, which is heavily Democratic. Democrats have a 9-2 majority.
The deductions could also impact four other unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Firefighters.
Larry Walker, past president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9, said his union has been lobbying for the change for a decade.
Were trying to make it easier for current members to keep dues up to date, Walker said, and to make it easier to recruit new people.
If the program is approved, any union that wishes to participate would have to pay the city a $1,000 annual fee to pay for the cost of implementing the deductions, City Attorney Bob Hagemann said. There would be no minimum number of employees needed to participate for the city to begin deductions.