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Bill Would Require Annual Votes To Keep Teachers Unions

Christopher Sessums
flickr Creative Commons

A bill in a Kansas Senate committee would require teachers union members to vote every year on whether to keep the union in place.

Supporters of the proposal say union members should have a right to vote on keeping the union, even if it was already in place when they were hired.

“Once the bargaining unit is there, it’s there," says Dave Trabert with the conservative think tank the Kansas Policy Institute. "If it’s been there 30 years, and you’ve been with the company 25 years, you never had an opportunity to vote on that."

But the state’s largest teachers union, the KNEA, says the bill is anti-union because it sets a high bar for keeping the organization in place. KNEA General Counsel David Schauner says there’s already a process in place for getting rid of unions.

“You can call this protecting an individual’s rights. I call it how do we diminish every teacher’s right to be collectively represented by destabilizing an existing and perfectly operating procedure,” Schauner says.

The chair of the committee, Sen. Julia Lynn, expressed her support for the bill and says the committee could try to vote on it as soon as tomorrow.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.