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Under the Dome - January 25, 2013

The War on Teachers ramps up!

Anti-teacher House members launch an attack on collective bargaining rights

Not content just to silence teachers in the political world, the anti-teacher forces in the Kansas House of Representatives today released a bill that effectively dismantles collective bargaining for teachers.

House Bill 2085 would dramatically limit bargaining, strip teachers of a voice in evaluation procedures, and prohibit exclusivity - in other words teachers would not be permitted to choose a bargaining agent such as KNEA or AFT by majority vote. Boards would be required to negotiate with anyone who wanted to be at the table.

While a hearing for this bill is not currently scheduled we have heard through sources that there is a plan to spring a hearing with no more than 24 hours notice, possibly as early as Tuesday. We have also learned that KASB and superintendents were asked to prepare for such a hearing.

How bad is HB 2085? While we know that those who dislike teachers will say that bargaining has not be eliminated, in most cases it will be. Here are nine ways the bill destroys the professional negotiations act:

1.     Prohibits teachers from negotiating professional employee appraisal procedures (p 3, lines 8-9)

2.     Prohibits exclusive representation rights (p 3, lines 22-25)

3.     Prohibits districts and associations from agreeing to bargain other items not specifically listed in statute (p 3, lines 25-27)

4.     Prohibits negotiation of length of class periods and number of periods taught (p 4, lines 1-4)

5.     Prohibits majority rule in the choosing of a bargaining representative (p 4, lines 17-20)

6.     Each individual employee may negotiate his/her own terms and conditions of employment (p 4, lines 23-26) But! See #8 below.

7.     Any individual employee or group of employees is automatically granted status as a representative for negotiations purposes by filing a request (p 5, lines 3-30)

8.     It is entirely at the discretion of the School Board as to whether or not employees will be permitted to bargain - bargaining is a permissive, not a mandatory activity and if the School Board says no, then no bargaining will take place. (p 8, line 13) So forget about #6 above.

Put these all together and it is easy to see why bargaining will disappear in Kansas. Many school districts will just say NO because they can and that ends the discussion. In those districts where one might believe the board is more enlightened and respectful of the teachers, it is unlikely that they will continue to bargain - if they do, they would open themselves up to being forced to bargain individually with each and every teacher who thought he or she could do better than the association. This would create such headaches for enlightened Boards of Education that they would choose to opt out.

So in just the first ten days of the 2013 legislative session, the House of Representatives has passed to the floor a bill prohibiting any teachers organization from advocating for their members if they use payroll deduction (HB 2032) and produced a bill for consideration that essentially dismantles professional negotiations. Teachers in Kansas will have no right to speak up for their schools nor will they be allowed a voice in their wages, hours, and working conditions.

Battle for free speech continues

HB 2032 - "silence the teachers" - heads for the full House

At the same time we are continuing to fight against HB 2023, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce bill to "get rid of public sector unions."

The bill has been moved out of committee and goes now to the full House for a vote as early as next Tuesday. Thousands of Kansans have rallied to the effort to defeat this heinous piece of legislation. Essentially it says that if KNEA or any other public sector employee organization uses payroll deduction for the collection of dues and PAC contributions, they surrender their right to political speech. The corporate members of the Kansas Chamber are free to continuing raising all the money they want in any way they want and spending their way to complete control of political speech in Kansas.

Are Kansas Chamber members thinking twice about the Chamber's War on Public Employees?

Maybe so. After all, that's a lot of potential customers.

Today, one of the Kansas Chamber's prominent members, Hy-Vee grocery stores, has issued a statement saying that although they are members of the Kansas Chamber, they do not support the Chamber attack on the rights of public employees. Here's the Hy-Vee statement:

"Hy-Vee wants customers to know that our company does not agree with recent statements made by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce's lobbyist regarding public employee unions, and we are not participating in or otherwise supporting any lobbying efforts by the Kansas Chamber in connection with the issue. Hy-Vee is a member of state and local Chambers of Commerce throughout the eight states in which we operate, but that does not mean we are in agreement with every action taken or every view held by these organizations and their representatives. From time to time, Hy-Vee will take public positions on issues that directly impact our business (such as the revision of Kansas laws governing the sale of alcoholic beverages), but our company does not choose sides when it comes to social or political issues that do not affect our operations. We are proud to serve customers representing all walks of life and all positions on the political spectrum, and our focus remains where it has always been: providing all Hy-Vee shoppers with quality products, outstanding values and superior service."

Do your part! The battle is not over yet! 

KNEA urges all Kansans who respect teachers, first responders, nurses, correctional officers, highway workers, and all the other hard working men and women who serve the state and our communities every day to contact their Representative.

You can do this by email - feel free to use our Contact Your Legislators web site. Click here.

You can do this by phone - leave a message on your legislator's office phone. Click here to get the phone number.

You can sign our petition. Click here, sign and your support for Kansas workers will be communicated to the Governor, your Senator, and your Representative.

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