Trent England | April 11, 2016
Fairness for Union Members
American workers have been deserting labor unions for decades. Some of this is the result of more workers with specialized skills or doing “knowledge work,” where there is less need for a third party to negotiate on their behalf. More strict employment laws and regulations also diminish the relevance of labor unions in the modern workplace. In response to these changes, some unions find ways to make it hard for workers to opt out. Legislation pending in the Oklahoma House would protect school employees from these kinds of shenanigans.
Some of the tricks union executives play on workers include narrow time windows for opting out or arcane requirements like hand delivering the form somewhere. In fact, this is exactly what the collective bargaining agreement for Oklahoma City Public Schools support staff spells out (page 7). If an employee wants out of the union, she must appear with identification and a written request at the district office during business hours.
Has the union not heard of email? Or telephones or mail service, for that matter? Of course, they just want to make it challenging, to put up little roadblocks for workers who choose to exercise their constitutional right to opt out of union involvement.
Senate Bill 960 requires a school district to accept any written notice, including by email, from an education employee who wants to opt out of a union. The district must process the opt out right away. Any collective bargaining provision to the contrary is declared null and void. And if a district decides to serve the union, and not the worker? The district must repay an employee for any dues collected after an opt-out notice, plus a penalty after more than 30 days.
The bill has already passed the Senate by a vote of 33 to 10. On April 12, the House Common Education Committee will hear the bill. If it passes there, it can go to the full House and then on to the Governor. The measure is cosponsored by Sen. Julie Daniels and Rep. Earl Sears.
David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.