Oklahoma House Bill 1749, which prohibits tens of thousands of Oklahoma teachers from paying their union dues via state payroll deductions, has stirred up plenty of controversy with teachers’ unions regarding thousands of Oklahoma teachers. Some lawmakers have deemed HB1749 a “poke in the eye to teachers,” and although the Senate committee approved the House-passed bill, the vote was divided 4-3. Representative Tom Newell, R-Seminole, wrote the bill based on his opposition to helping groups that collectively bargain, or negotiate over conditions of employment, with the state of Oklahoma. He claims: “We’re not anti-union. We simply don’t think the state should support the union by withholding dues.”
The Lawsuit Last summer, however, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), which has approximately 30,000 members statewide, and the American Federation of Teachers Oklahoma (AFTO), which represents more than 2,600 school employees, filed a lawsuit in the Oklahoma County District Court to overturn HB1749. The two teachers’ unions claim that the law is unconstitutional and the state should not enforce it. The lawsuit was filed against the Oklahoma City Public Schools and the director of the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, Preston Doerflinger, although the lawsuit states that Mr. Doerflinger is being sued “in his official capacity only.”
Silencing The Voice Of Teachers Critics of HB1749 claim that the legislation was created to “silence the voices of Oklahoma public education employees.” Supporters of the bill say that the law does not forbid teachers from joining a teachers’ union or even from paying the requisite dues, as dues can be paid via check, credit card, or bank draft. HB1749 merely prohibits union dues from being deducted from their paychecks. Unions such as the OEA have collected dues via payroll deductions since the 1970s.
Not For The Betterment Of Oklahoma Schools The two unions and their members feel strongly that refusing to allow payroll deductions for union membership dues to any professional organization that collectively bargains to improve the learning conditions for students and the teaching conditions for all educators is not working toward the betterment of schools. In fact, it is targeted to silence the voices of teachers. The president of the OEA, Linda Hampton, stated, “To take something like this away is really a very petty thing.”
Let Our Labor Law Lawyers Help You Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP has worked since the inception of the law firm to support the interests and defend the rights of union members. If you need a Tulsa labor law attorney to help you with your union issues, call our office today for a free consultation at 918-779-3658.