Illegal Education Strikes Cause Teacher Pushback

Oklahoma state Rep.-elect Toni Hasenbeck is a seventh grade teacher and 2018 candidate who publicly disagreed with union chiefs on key issues like taxes and charter schools. She won in November by a 1,600-vote margin. Credit: Toni Hasenbeck campaign photo

Big Labor Politicos Don’t Speak For Educators

Sooner Teacher Candidates Run Against NEA-Boss Platform and Win

In the spring of 2018, Oklahoma was one of a number of states in which government union bigwigs helped incite some teachers to engage in illegal strikes that shut down government schools.

It’s a fact: Americans overwhelmingly support higher pay for hardworking and effective teachers, and when necessary in order to fill particular teaching positions with qualified individuals.

Of course, these are not the aims of teacher union bosses and the other political radicals who collaborated with them to orchestrate last year’s school strikes.

In the Sooner State, for example, the self-styled Big Labor front group “Oklahoma Parents and Educators For Public Education” (OPEPE) used the illegal strikes as a vehicle to ram through a $447 million tax hike on targeted consumers and businesses.

Throughout last year’s primary and general election campaigns, OPEPE operatives supported pro-tax incumbents and challengers and bitterly attacked pro-taxpayer candidates who favored across-the-board pay increases for teachers, but wanted to fund them by reallocating resources rather than through higher taxes.

It’s ‘Wrong to Assume All Educators Walk in Lockstep’ With Union Dons

Meanwhile, the hierarchy of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) union, which is a subsidiary of the gargantuan National Education Association (NEA) union, touted its so-called “Oklahoma Education Caucus.”

This was a list of Sooner teachers and other individuals who are or once were in some way professionally affiliated with schools who were running for public office in 2018.

According to a November 13 editorial published in Okahoma City’s Daily Oklahoman, the OEA union brass “identified 60 general election candidates as educators, including 56 running for legislative seats.”

On Election Day, 15 of the 56 won a seat in the Oklahoma state Senate or House of Representatives.

However, the editorial continued, just five of the 15 winning “educator” candidates were endorsed by the OEA union’s so-called “Fund for Children and Public Education”!

It dryly concluded: “[I]t’s wrong to assume all educators walk in lockstep or parrot the views of teachers’ unions and activist groups, let alone owe their campaign success to them.”

Bucking NEA Bosses, Educator Candidates Backed Charters And School Choice

Oklahoma state Reps.-elect Toni Hasenbeck and Kelly Albright and state Sen.-elect David Bullard are cases in point.

Ms. Hasenbeck, a middle school teacher in Comanche County, opposed Oklahoma’s Big Labor-backed 2018 tax increase and rejected OEA officials’ demand for a moratorium on public charter schools, which unlike traditional government schools are overwhelmingly union-free.

Ms. Albright, an elementary school teacher in Oklahoma City, also endorsed charters and school choice, as did Mr. Bullard, a longtime teacher from Durant, Oklahoma.

Undoubtedly because they refused to toe the union line, Ms. Hasenbeck, Ms. Albright, and Mr. Bullard did not receive OEA officials’ endorsements for their campaigns. But they all won anyway.

Meanwhile, “educator” candidates like incumbent Reps. Donnie Condit (McAlester) and Karen Gaddis (Tulsa)kowtowed to union political chiefs and went down to defeat.

“A very small minority of American teachers regularly agree with the stands that the bosses of the NEA and its subsidiaries and other teacher unions take on education, taxes, and an array of other issues,” noted National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King.

“But until the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer in Janus (a case that was argued and won by a National  Right to Work Foundation staff attorney), teachers and other public school employees in more than 20 states were routinely forced to pay dues or fees to union officials who were misrepresenting them.

“If they refused, they were fired.  

“Thanks to Janus, it is now legally prohibited in all 50 states to force teachers and other public employees to pay for union advocacy with which they disagree as a condition of working for the taxpayer.

“That’s genuine progress. The next major step is revocation of government union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining privileges.

“Today more than 30 states still have laws on the books empowering union bosses to speak for all public servants who choose not to join their organizations, as well as those who do, in discussions with the employer regarding working conditions.

“Many teachers, such as those who are qualified for teaching positions that school administrators normally have trouble filling, routinely get paid less due to union monopoly bargaining.

“Elimination of union bosses’ so-called ‘exclusive representation’ privileges is essential to protect independent-minded teachers.”

(source: January 2019 National Right to Work Newsletter)