- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Senate has passed legislation that would require teachers to vote every three years in order to maintain their local union.

The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1LI4iHD ) reports that the bill passed the chamber with a 22-18 vote after more than two hours of debate Wednesday.

The measure would direct the Kansas Department of Labor to hold elections for teachers to weigh in on whether or not to keep their union every three years. Unions would continue to have negotiating power as long as more than 50 percent of employees who vote in the election are in favor of the union.

The task would entail more than 300 elections at an estimated $340,000 cost. The state might be able to charge professional organizations for the expense.

Supporter of the bill have said that it increases transparency and would allow negotiators to reflect the workforce at any given time.

“I’m proud of the fact we are going to empower teachers to make decisions on who they want to represent them,” said Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Leawood. “The only thing this bill is anti of, is anti-establishment.”

Opponents of the bill have said that current procedures are sufficient. The current law says 30 percent of teachers in a unit can call an election by signing a petition.

Senators passed two amendments to the bill. The first amendment made a provision for emergencies, such as if the labor department failed to hold an election and a union’s representation automatically lapsed. The second would make the election results binding, even if less than 50 percent of employees vote.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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