The Kansas House of Representatives passed its first bill of the new legislative session, House Bill (HB) 2023
on Feb. 7. The bill, if passed through the Senate and signed by Governor Sam Brownback
, will stop professional employees’ organizations, or unions, from using any periodic payments from a member’s paycheck to go towards political activities. This bill should not be passed because it could strip teachers of a collective political voice, that might it turn, negatively affect the quality of our education.Unions are often created to maintain or improve working conditions, protect their profession, and increase wages. Members must often pay dues to the unions which are used in various ways. That money is often used to support lobbyists, campaigns, and candidates.
A group of unions in particular that have raised their voices in protest of this bill are the teachers’ unions. The teachers’ unions are upset because the money that they have previously received from teachers’ for member dues, through automatic payroll deductions, can no longer be used in any political means. If the bill is passed, the unions will have to ask their members to support them in political activities through personal payments.
We believe that this bill is not giving teachers a collective voice. Others are disagreeing and saying that teachers never had a voice from the beginning. Teachers cannot choose where their money goes when they pay their dues to the union. So while one teacher may be against a particular political candidate or issue, their money could end up funding that candidate anyway.
This bill have arrived at a peculiar time, just after the Kansas public school funding was deemed “unconstitutionally low” by the Kansas courts. The courts called for the previously approved budget of $3,838 per student to be raised to $4,492. In an effort to maneuver the court’s ruling, some legislative members have brought up a constitutional amendment that could lower the Kansas court’s ability to direct where funds should go.
We think that HB 2023 was made to stop teachers from having a voice in the public school funding issue. Teachers’ unions are going to have a harder time being able to lobby against this bill, support candidates behind it and publicize the issue. This in turn affects us as the lack of funding halts us from having an adequate education. How can a couple hundred students from Prairie Village, KS going to be able to convince Kansas legislatures to fund the extra $392,400,000 needed for the 600,000 public school children? Teachers’ unions are a strong, collective voice that we need. Stripping this powerful voice won’t provide us with the best education the state of Kansas can give to us.
This bill should not be passed. HB 2023 is denying teachers a collective voice that could in turn, impact us.