Kansas House Committee Takes Up Union Bargaining Bill | KCUR

Kansas House Committee Takes Up Union Bargaining Bill

Mar 7, 2013

A Kansas House committee has heard from supporters and opponents of a bill that would limit the bargaining rights of teachers.

The legislation would cut back on the items school districts are required to negotiate with unions from more than two dozen to five. Supporters of the change say it will allow administrators to allocate resources and respond to demands on the education system.

Ken Willard is a member of the Kansas Board of Education and he headed a school efficiency task force created by Governor Sam Brownback.

“My reading of the bill leads me to understand that it will provide more flexibility for school administrators and school boards to manage staff resources and differentiate compensation based on teacher assignment, difficulty of the assignment, and performance,” says Willard.

Opponents of the bill call it an attack on teachers and say it could hurt classroom outcomes by creating teachers who aren't satisfied with their work environments. David Schauner is with the Kansas National Education Association, a union representing teachers.

“This bargaining law we have now does not get in the ways of success of educating kids,” says Scauner. “The proposal gets in the way of giving the people that do that work a legitimate voice in the process.”

Dozens of educators filled the hearing so it was standing room only. They sometimes scoffed or laughed at comments made by supporters of the bill. The House commerce committee will continue hearings on the bill Friday.