Oklahoma Educators at Odds Over Bill Limiting Teachers’ Union Communications

KOKH - April 15, 2024 6:02 am

Oklahoma Capitol(Photo by Visions of America-Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

An Oklahoma bill targeting teachers’ associations is gaining some criticism from state educators.

SB1513 lays out some ground rules of how schools give teachers’ unions access to their employees.

While some educators are fearful this will take away their options to join, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, argues it will have the opposite effect.

“This is just to make sure all teachers know what all their resources are,” she said.

Tony Morgan, who is a special education teacher, disagrees.

“They’re trying to make it so that no group can talk to us as teachers,” he said.

There’s two very different opinions from two current and former teachers.

Rep. Hasenbeck believes her bill will give all teacher organizations fair treatment, which after nineteen years teaching in the classroom, is a policy she believes in.

“It’s just going to fix it where teacher membership groups, if they come into a school, they all need to get equal time so that all of the teachers have all of their options available to them,” the Rep. from Elgin said.

Morgan, on the other hand, looks at the bill as a restriction.

“This bill I see is being detrimental to the opportunities of me being able to listen and hear from differing groups on what they offer to me as a teacher,” he said.

The bill spells out that a district is prohibited from requiring employees to meet and listen to any organization, and can’t distribute “membership solicitations” on behalf of an organization.

A district also can’t give one group “resources on terms more favorable” than to any other group, meaning preferential treatment.

“We don’t want anyone to coerce them. We certainly don’t want anyone to say you only have this one option,” Rep. Hasenbeck said.

While no specific group is mentioned in the bill, Morgan said he wants to make his own decisions when it comes to legal representation and other association benefits.

“As a teacher, I don’t need someone telling me that I can’t listen to a group and make up my own mind about different things when it comes to union representation,” he said.

The bill passed through committee 6-3 with two Democrats and one Republican voting against it.

It will now move on to the House floor for consideration.

 

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