Wednesday, December 14, 2016

IMPORTANT - Senate Bills JEOPARDIZE the ability of your union to do business!

A REPRINT FROM THE last night's MEA  Message-

CALL TO ACTION - Fight Latest Attacks on Unions' Ability to Conduct Business
SB 279-280 impacts union release time; now includes ban on payroll deduction of dues for community colleges
We need members to join the fight against yet another anti-labor measure being pushed by the Legislature's Republican leadership. 
This morning, a House Committee passed two bills - SB 279 and 280 - that attack the ability of union leaders to use release time to address employment-related matters with school districts. In a surprise move, the committee also added language to SB 280 expanding the ban on payroll deduction of dues to employees of community colleges (not just K-12 school districts).
The House could vote on these bills any time before the lame duck session ends next week - the Senate previously passed them last year. Please contact your State Representative and urge them to vote against SB 279-280.
If signed into law, the bills would cost the state more in payments to the retirement system, while making it harder for district administrators and union leaders to collaborate on labor-management and educational issues, with the work needing to be done outside of school hours. Community colleges would incur costs to implement the dues deduction ban.
When you call or email your State Representative, use the talking points below to craft a strong argument that focuses on issues related to cost and efficiency. 
Summary: SB 279 would prohibit individuals from accruing retirement service credit for time spent in collaboration and problem-solving activities with school administrators. 
Talking Points:
  1. Unions are already required to reimburse the school district for retirement costs on release time. There is no cost savings to the district through passing this bill.
  2. If the leaders are not able to get service credit for union release time, then the school district is not reimbursed for the retirement costs for that time. The MPSERS cost for that time will become the responsibility of the school district, further stretching school budgets to the tune of $1 million.
Summary: Senate Bill 280 seeks to ban collective bargaining agreements with public employers that allow for union leave time to be paid for by the employer. This bill would have a very negative impact on the ability of public employers to conduct work during normal business hours. The bill also now bans community colleges from collecting dues via payroll deduction, unnecessarily restricting the rights of those employees.
Talking points: 
  1. Collective bargaining agreements that allow for employer-paid union leave time are the norm in both the public and private sector. These arrangements benefit both sides by allowing for regular contact with labor and management representatives and for ease of processing day to day employee issues and utilizing the skills of employees to collaborate with management on things like professional development, mentoring, school improvement, etc.  
  2. Whether it is a few hours per month to handle employment matters, or a full-time union official on union leave, these arrangements are collectively bargained and agreed upon by both sides in the contract. Allowing for beneficial cooperation between labor and management is especially important in schools where administration and educators need to work closely together to help students succeed.
  3. If paid union leave time is banned, union representatives will be less able to perform necessary work during normal business hours. This will result in this work being moved to non-business hours at much hassle and expense to the employer. 
  4. The addition of language banning payroll deduction of dues for community colleges is an unnecessary restraint on the rights of those employees to use the money in their paychecks as they see fit. In an age of electronic payroll processing, there is no cost to employers to conduct these withdrawals - in fact, community colleges will likely incur increased costs to implement this ban. And this ban has nothing to do with the rest of the contents of this bill, that's been under consideration for more than a year.
A vote on these bills could happen as soon as today -- please contact your State Representative and urge them to vote against SB 279-280.