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Under the Dome - March 6, 2013

On the used car lot, it's called "bait and switch"

They say teachers can bargain salary but leave out insurance, the fastest rising cost driver in compensation.

They say teachers can bargain salary but they give school boards unilateral authority to craft their own pay schedules outside of bargaining.

They say there is an exclusive representative for bargaining but they give permission for anyone to accept their own sweetheart deal.

They say it's about efficiency but they require teachers to go around every two years and spend time working a new bargaining election.

They say they value collaboration but they take away collaboration on 25 of important professional issues.

They say it protects bargaining but it sets up a system designed to undermine bargaining.

When it comes to Sub for HB 2027, it seems that the proponents have adopted a policy based on keeping their fingers crossed.

Sub for HB 2027 was crafted by the Kansas Association of School Boards and a few members of the Kansas School Superintendents Association. Representing KSSA at a hearing today in support of the bill were Seaman Superintendent Mike Mathes, McPherson Superintendent Randy Watson, and Smoky Valley Superintendent Glen Suppes. Representing KASB in support were President Elect Henderson from Seaman and KASB attorney David Shriver.

Are there less than honest assertions being made?

Proponents have said that KNEA was informed of all the secret meetings taking place between KSSA, KASB and Rep. Kleeb. We were informed after the fact. Those who crafted this onerous piece of anti-teacher legislation met in secret, crafted the bill, dropped it in committee, passed it out of committee and then, after their actions were made public by the press, told us of the meetings. That's not "informing;" that's "blindsiding."

Proponents also say that KNEA was informed of the KSSA survey on collective bargaining. Yes we were...after the results were given to Rep. Kleeb and concurrent with the results being given to other legislators. We actually learned of it from a legislator, not the KSSA.

But most dishonest and distorted of all the assertions is that they wrote HB 2027 to SAVE collective bargaining for teachers. While it is true that HB 2085, the original anti-teacher legislation would have immediately eliminated collective bargaining as we know it, the KSSA/KASB version in HB 2027 lets the ruins of the professional negotiations act stay alive on a limited basis while nullifying nearly all of your current contract. Then the bill provides a statutory mechanism for the school board to seek the end of collective bargaining by automatically de-certifying the bargaining agent every two years!

KASB amendments to HB 2027 create a three part dismantling of collective bargaining such that every two years, the local school board has a chance to get rid of it. Here's how KASB and their friends in propose to manage this feat in three clever amendments:

Amend the law to allow school districts to grant individual teachers sweetheart deals outside of the negotiated contract.

Amend the law to remove a currently prohibited practice - current law says the school board is prohibited from discriminating in terms or conditions of employment that encourage or discourage membership in an employees' organization. So, under current law a school board cannot give a $5000 bonus to any employee to discourage union membership. KASB has asked for this prohibited practice to be deleted so that they can indeed discriminate to discourage membership.

Amend the law so that all recognized bargaining agents are automatically de-certified and must go through a certification election every two years.

Understand - this bill does not preserve collective bargaining for teachers. It is being designed by KASB and their friends in KSSA to manipulate teachers into believing collective bargaining is not good for them and to ultimately eliminate the local association. That is the goal.

The hearing is not yet over. It will continue on Friday of this week. Today, Ken Willard, KSSA, and KASB spoke as proponents being asked questions and given an open mic.

KNEA General Counsel David Schauner was the first opponent up after Chairman Kleeb suggested that opponents just "summarize your key points." Schauner did not simply summarize and Kleeb did not cut him off. Appearing as opponents after Schauner were Harry McDonald representing the Mainstream Coalition, Missy Taylor of Kansas Families for Education, and Justin Olmstead of Winfield NEA. More opponents including KNEA President Karen Godfrey will be up on Friday.


In the meantime... 

Contact your representative! Tell him or her that collective bargaining in our schools is the only way to ensure the teacher's voice is heard. Sub for HB 2027 is bad public policy - a massive rewrite of Kansas school law without any real discussion or debate. It is being rammed through the process without a full analysis of the issues and without any evidence of a problem.

This bill has been crafted behind closed doors with KNEA given no opportunity to present an alternative viewpoint until after the bill was passed out of committee. It is time to stop this railroad. Vote NO on Sub for HB 2027 or any other bill that strips Kansas teachers of a voice.


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