(AP) — Republicans sparked protests from teachers and union officials
Tuesday by pushing legislation through a House committee that would bar
Indiana schools from automatically deducting union dues from teacher
paychecks, an issue that critics thought was off the table this year.
legislation, which has the support of Gov. Mike Pence, cleared the House
Education Committee along party lines.
If the plan
makes its way through the GOP-controlled Legislature, it would be another
major blow to Indiana's unions. A right-to-work law was approved last year
that banned collecting mandatory union fees at private businesses, a year
after lawmakers restricted the collective bargaining power of teachers.
"This is being
done, in my opinion, to do nothing but stifle their representative voice,
as other legislation that has been passed in recent history," said Rick
Muir, president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers.
Republican, and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce logged their support for
the measure Tuesday. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said a school
district or other government unit should not be involved in collecting
money which can then be used for political purposes.
Thompson, a retired high school chemistry teacher who said he paid union
dues by check, slipped the proposal in shortly before a key legislative
deadline Tuesday in the House. The Republican from Linton said deducting
union dues from paychecks is equivalent to lawmakers raising political
donations using their Statehouse phones.
it costs the state nothing, it's wrong for me to collect contributions
using the Statehouse property," Thompson said. "It's just not the way it
should be done, is it?"
unclear how the legislation would fare in the Senate. The chairman of that
chamber's education committee, Sen. Dennis Kruse, said he had decided not
to consider a similar Senate bill on teacher union dues and wasn't sure
whether he would act on the House measure.
"I think we've
the teachers pretty hard the last couple of years, and I don't think we
need to keep doing things that from their perspective would hurt them,"
said Kruse, a Republican from Auburn. "I think we should just pause for a
little while and let some of these changes we've made be implemented and
let things go on for a little bit."
marks something of a surprise from Pence, who did not mention the issue
during his campaign and left it out of his policy "roadmap." A top policy
adviser, however, told the committee that the governor favored the
Pence supports this bill because it rewards high-performing schools and
teachers with more freedom and flexibility, and he does not believe public
schools should collect money for private entities," Pence spokeswoman
Christy Denault said after the committee vote.
now heads to the full House.