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OK Moves Forward with Teachers Union Paycheck Deception, Dubiously Exempts Police and Firefighters

Rep. Nathan Dahm

Rep. Nathan Dahm

In Oklahoma, a “paycheck protection” bill aimed at teachers unions narrowly passed the Senate General Government Committee on a 4-3 vote last week.  HB 1749, written by Rep. Tom Newell, would prohibit automatic deduction of dues for groups engaged in collective bargaining with the state. It would go into action November 1st. 

The bill, which labor unions refer to as “paycheck deception,” moves to the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Nathan Dahm, who helped co-write the bill, incorrectly argues that the dues are used “for political purposes.”  Rep. Newell told The Oklahoman that he wrote the bill “because he is opposed to helping groups that collectively bargain with the state.”  

“We’re not anti-union,” Newell claimed.  “We simply don’t think the state should support the union by withholding dues.”

Oklahoma teachers have faced rough enough times as it is. Linda Hampton, President of the Oklahoma Education Association, says HB 1749 is “piling on.”  The average pay of Oklahoma teachers ranks 49th in the nation and many teachers have not had raises in years:

“This has absolutely nothing to do with the betterment of schools,” Hampton said. “It is targeted to silence the voice of teachers.

“To take something like this away is really a very petty thing.”

Speaking to Tulsa World, Patti Ferguson-Palmer, Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association president, said she was “not happy” with the proposed change.  Her group, however, was prepared for such a move since it is part of a nationwide anti-worker GOP agenda.  

“We have been fighting this over several years,” she said. “We know it is a nationwide thing. It is not just Oklahoma.

“I think it is pathetic that our legislators think it is a higher priority to tell OEA members what can and can’t be deducted from their paychecks than dealing with some of the problems that really plague the state.”

Ed Allen, President of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, said he expects a legal challenge.

Ralph Shortey, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma City, voted against HB 1749 in committee, pointing out that it applies almost only to the OEA and the AFT.  Groups that don’t collectively bargain with the state, such as the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, will not be affected. The bill also has a common red flag when it comes to GOP anti-union measures: police and fire fighters, who frequently lean Republican, are exempt. 

“This all comes back to a matter of fairness,” Shortey said.

I think he means unfairness.

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