- Associated Press - Monday, February 26, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A bill that would end collective bargaining at South Dakota’s public universities is one vote away from Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s signature after a Senate committee approved it Monday.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to advance the legislation to the chamber’s floor for a likely final vote. It has already narrowly passed through the House, and the Republican governor supports the proposal.

House Speaker Mark Mickelson, the bill’s sponsor, said that it would save money and make the institutions more efficient. He said that there’s nothing “nimble or adaptive or responsive” about collective bargaining agreements.

Patrick Weber, a policy adviser to the governor, said Daugaard believes the measure would help universities focus on serving students and preparing them for their careers.

Democratic Sen. Troy Heinert, an opponent of the plan, said the bill is based on a “made-up crisis.” Critics contend the measure would make it harder for universities to attract and keep faculty.

Alan Aldrich, state president of the Council of Higher Education, the faculty labor union, told lawmakers that recruitment and retention are an important “part of life at a university.”

“I need good colleagues to work with, to collaborate with and to teach with, and our students need and deserve the same,” he said.

Union contracts cover more than 1,300 staff members at the state’s six public universities and at schools for the blind and deaf.

Daugaard last year signed a bill banning collective bargaining at the four technical institutes in right-to-work South Dakota.

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