EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
April 2, 2015
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Thursday prohibiting school districts from automatically deducting union dues from teachers’ paychecks.
The bill is similar to legislation that was signed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and ultimately upheld by that state’s highest court.
Oklahoma’s law becomes effective Nov. 1 and only affects teachers unions.
“Governor Fallin supports Oklahoma teachers and their right to collectively bargain,” Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman, said in a written statement. “They will still be able to do that. This bill simply helps get the state out of the business of collecting union dues.”
The Oklahoma Education Association and Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers unions have derided the bill, and both are currently consulting their lawyers.
On Thursday, OEA President Linda Hampton said passage of the bill is an attempt to silence teachers who have opposed education reform initiatives such as school-choice vouchers and high-stakes testing.
“This issue has always been about attempting to silence the voices of education employees,” she said in a written statement. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with those public servants who courageously point out that our state’s fiscal policy is bankrupting our public schools.”
Oklahoma City-AFT President Ed Allen said it may be several weeks before the union decides how to proceed.
Potential grounds for a legal fight include a provision that makes teachers state employees and the question whether the bill is discriminatory because it applies only to teachers unions.
Allen said the new law is expected to cost his union $12,000 a year in order to collect dues. The union needs to decide whether the cost will be passed to teachers, or if budget cuts will be made to absorb the cost.
While Fallin said she loves teachers, Allen said the her signature on the bill tells a different story.
“I am tired of hearing ‘I love teachers, but,'” he said. “Your actions speak louder than words. I am tired of hearing ‘but.'”
Nate Robson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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