Sooner Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Union Speech?!

Pro-Right to Work Oklahoma state Sen. Julie Daniels
Pro-Right to Work Oklahoma state Sen. Julie Daniels: “[T]eachers are professionals, and they should be treated as such. . . . [N]o private group, including a union, should [be authorized to] hold teachers captive.” (Credit: Oklahoma Senate)

State Senate Passes Measure Barring Abusive ‘Union Time’ Deals

Oklahoma is a Right to Work state, and has been for more than two decades.

That means that, when employees think the union that wields monopoly-bargaining power in their workplace isn’t doing a good job, they don’t have to give any money to that union.

And vast numbers of unionized public servants in Oklahoma evidently don’t agree with the actions of the union bosses who have been granted special “exclusive” privileges to deal with their employer on matters concerning their pay, benefits, and work rules. Roughly 14,000 have opted not to be union members, according to U.S. Labor Department data.

Oklahoma Teacher Union Bosses Benefit From an Array of Special Privileges

Unfortunately, teacher and other government union bosses across Oklahoma are still allowed to utilize taxpayer money in order to propagate the very messages that many freedom-loving public servants have opted not to support.

Teacher union bigwigs affiliated with the mammoth American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) unions are currently allowed, by statute, privileged access to school events, facilities and resources to distribute their materials and communications. Meanwhile, comparable access is denied to nonunion professional educator groups.

Even worse, they are authorized by statute to pressure school districts into mandating that teachers attend union sales-pitch sessions. Even teachers who have already stated clearly they don’t want to join the union can be forced to attend.

But in response to a series of outrageous teacher union-boss abuses of power, including Big Labor’s unscientific, educationally-destructive opposition to reopening public schools that had been shuttered at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oklahoma Legislature has decided to fight back.

 S.B.1513, which is sponsored by Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville), passed the state Senate on March 7 in a 28-14 vote. 

It would curtail or outright eliminate key perks Oklahoma teacher unions have accrued over the last 53 years since the 1971 institution of K-12 Big Labor monopoly bargaining.

Sen. Daniels spoke to this newsletter about the bill: 

“With whom teachers associate should be completely up to them. They are professionals, and they should be treated as such. Any professional groups should have equal access to them, and no private group, including a union, should [be authorized to] hold teachers captive.”

As this Newsletter edition goes to press, S.B.1513 is being shepherded through the State House by Rep. Toni Hasenbeck (R-Elgin). Mrs. Daniels is optimistic about its passage there.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb noted that, under state law, the work year for Sooner teachers includes five days of professional development:

“Taxpayers fund these work days, just as they fund the days educators spend teaching or meeting with parents. 

“It’s simply not in taxpayers’ interest to have teachers spending any time on their professional days being browbeaten into joining a union they don’t want or retaining membership in a union they may wish to leave.

“S.B.1513 will protect the interests of independent-minded teachers, schoolchildren and taxpayers by prohibiting Big Labor bosses from exploiting ‘professional days’ and other public resources to advance union special interests.”

‘Professional Days’ Should Be Dedicated Exclusively to True Professional Development

“‘Professional days’ should be dedicated exclusively to true professional development,” Mr. Kalb concluded.

Mr. Kalb concurred with Sen. Daniels that S.B.1513, which the Committee is actively supporting, stands an excellent chance of being approved by the Oklahoma House and signed by GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt.

 “Oklahomans are waking up to the radicalism in their midst, which has flourished with government support for over half a century.

“The routine giveaways of teachers’ time and other public resources to Big Labor are very likely violations of ‘gift clauses’ found in many state constitutions, including Oklahoma’s.

“In other states, the fight against similar ‘official time’ abuses is being waged in court, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court victory in Janus v. AFSCME has been a key precedent cited by opponents of such abuses.

“The battle to put ordinary citizens on a level playing field with government union bosses will be a long one. No single piece of legislation, however beneficial, can achieve this goal. But Oklahoma’s S.B.1513 is a good step in the right direction.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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