- Associated Press - Monday, March 16, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A bill that prohibits Oklahoma school districts from making payroll deductions for its employees for union membership narrowly passed a state Senate committee on Monday over the objection of members who say it unfairly targets teachers.

The Senate General Government Committee voted 4-3 for the bill by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, the chairman of the committee. The bill already passed the House and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill makes it illegal for any state agency to make payroll deductions for employees for membership dues in any organization that collectively bargains on behalf of its members. The bill does not apply to state employees who are members of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association or to municipal employees like police or firefighters.

It would, however, apply to the thousands of Oklahoma teachers who are members of organizations like the Oklahoma Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

Dahm said he would prefer to prohibit all payroll deductions, but the language was the result of negotiations in the House.



“My intent is not to apply to any specific group,” Dahm said. “More than anything, I believe this is a philosophical issue.”

Westmoore High School teacher Elise Robillard, who currently serves as president of the Education Association of Moore, said the bill unfairly targets Oklahoma teachers who already are suffering from low morale.

“It’s a question of fairness,” Robillard said. “If other organizations are offered this access to payroll deductions, which costs the state no money, then why would you punish teachers? This is a poke in the eye to teachers, and we don’t need to be doing that.”

Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City AFT local, said if the bill is signed into law, the organization likely would file a lawsuit to stop it from taking effect.

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Online:

House Bill 1749: https://bit.ly/1Dtu9gV

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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