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Fight for 15

Oklahoma Lawmakers Retaliate Against Educators

Republicans want to eliminate dues deductions and force teachers unions to recertify as payback for the 2 week strike

Kris LaGrange's picture
May 07, 2018

For two weeks, schools in Oklahoma were closed as teachers flocked to the Capitol, demanding raises and increases in school funding that would bring them closer to the national average. After bringing national attention to the substandard teaching conditions in Oklahoma, the legislature passed numerous raises and increased taxes to fund education. While the teachers won, legislators have been looking for ways to punish teachers for embarrassing them on the national stage.

To do this, state Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell has introduced SB 1150. This bill would make it illegal for local school districts to deduct union dues. It would also force local unions to hold recertification elections every five years. If less than 50% of members vote for the union, the local would be decertified. "It seems like a revenge bill to come back after teachers, after the walkout," Oklahoma AFT President Ed Allen said. "They're only picking out dues deductions for those who collectively bargain. They seem to be saying it's a cost to the district to deduct dues. If that's true, it's a cost to the district to deduct United Way or insurance products. From our perspective, it's really unfair."

The goal of the legislation is to force teacher’s union to spend their time collecting dues and reminding members to vote, instead of doing their job and representing members in bargaining and disciplinary meetings.

Oklahoma is not the first state to impose this kind of rule. In Iowa, mandatory certification elections resulted in overwhelming support for teachers unions, with the vast majority voting to stay with their union.

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