Will Kansas Be The Next Monopoly Bargaining Battleground?
Just as Paul Revere carried the message to assemble to protect your freedom across Massachusetts, so teachers and legislators are sounding the bell of freedom in yet another state: Kansas. Kansas, while a Right to Work state, still binds teachers to monopoly bargaining, and a showdown will come soon.
Brad Cooper, Kansas City Star, has the story.
Less vilified in Kansas than some other parts of the country, those teachers’ unions still find their clout under attack in the Legislature.
The visceral battle over teachers’ unions has marched its way across the country. Ohio. Idaho. Wisconsin. Michigan. And now it advances into Kansas, greeted by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies in the Legislature.
Lawmakers are already moving to undercut the tenuous power of teachers’ unions by barring them from using voluntary paycheck deductions for politics.
What’s more, they’re going after teachers’ ability to bargain collectively on key issues — hoping to give cash-strapped school districts new flexibility and leverage in contract talks.
The organized labor of education says it’s under siege.
“We are seeing a lot of things that appear to be a direct attack on teachers,” said Kansas National Education Association President Karen Godfrey.
Following the recommendations of a school efficiency task force convened by Brownback, the Legislature is looking at how to curtail the bargaining power of teachers’ unions by limiting what can be negotiated.
The most prominent bill would continue to promise negotiations on specific issues, including salaries, work load outside the classroom within an eight-hour work day and sick leave.
More critically, the legislation would give school administrators the option to refuse negotiations on health benefits, dress codes, grievance procedures and contract terminations. Further, teacher evaluations and the length and number of teaching periods would be off limits — school districts would have to settle those rules outside of contract talks.