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Local & Regional

Committee Advances House Measure Requiring Recertifying of Teachers Unions

KWGS News File Photo

Some Oklahoma lawmakers believe teachers unions should be recertified by their members on a regular basis.

House Bill 1767 calls on school district boards of education to hold secret ballot elections at least every five years to determine whether bargaining units still have the support of the employees they represent.

Currently, such an election can be called almost any time by 35 percent of a unit’s employees. Rep. Todd Russ said his bill is an attempt to increase transparency.

"You know, I've got young teachers in my family, have no clue about the union process or if they're represented by a union or not and certainly not had a say in that process," Russ said.

"I know some teachers that are leaving the state of Oklahoma, and if [the unions] are tapping them for $40, $50, $60 a month out of their paycheck and they have no control over that or no knowledge of due process, then should we not give them that right to help them when we're really, you know, maybe having trouble increasing their salaries at the local level otherwise?" Russ said.

Under HB1767, the first recertification elections would be held between Aug. 1, 2018, and Dec. 1, 2018. Such elections must be held between Aug. 1 and Dec. 1 at least once every five years afterward.

If a majority of all employees in a bargaining unit don't vote to retain it, the school board must stop recognizing it. Those employees would then be unrepresented.

Employees could then vote to approve a new union, but it can't be similar to or affiliated with the one that's no longer recognized.

Rep. Cyndi Munson asked Russ about some logistics of those requirements.

"What is it going to cost the school districts to create a new process?" Munson said.

"Should cost them absolutely nothing," Russ said.

The House General Government Oversight and Accountability Committee approved HB1767 5–3.