Proposal to eliminate payroll deductions for union dues

Pre-K teachers packed a AISD Cunningham Elementary cafeteria for on the job training (KXAN Photo)
Pre-K teachers packed a AISD Cunningham Elementary cafeteria for on the job training (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Teachers throughout Texas say they’re being targeted, and they plan to make their voices heard in front of lawmakers.

Educators are protesting Senate Bill 13, filed by Houston Republican Senator Joan Huffman. The legislation bans state, county and municipal employers from collecting union dues from employee paychecks.

“Teachers are a large group, and we’re a vocal group, they would like to silence us,” said Kristel Sexton, president of the Amarillo Association of Texas Professional Educators. Sexton predicts the organization would lost about half of their members if lawmakers pass SB 13.

ATPE says automatic payroll deduction is the easiest way for teachers pay their dues. “It allows the teachers to spread the payments out over the entire year, making them very much smaller and they come out when they get paid,” said Byron Hildebrand, state secretary for ATPE.

Those who support the bill believe there should be some separation between government and these organizations. “Union paperwork ought not to be there, that’s like asking someone to join a church in that stack of paperwork. That’s not right, that’s a political conflict of interest,” said Andy Hogue, communications director for the Travis County Republicans.

Sexton doesn’t believe that’s the true reason behind the legislation. “If that were the case, then they wouldn’t exclude policemen and firemen, they’re public servants too,” Sexton said. Under Senate Bill 13, police, fire and EMS are excluded and can continue to have dues deducted from their paychecks.

Hogue says finding other ways to pay, for example, at regular meetings, could be good for teachers and union members. “It forces the people receiving the funds to come and interact with the people giving the money, you’ll have affairs, you’ll have informational pamphlets.”

But ATPE says paying another more inconvenient way, may cause some members to leave the organization. “Once the money is in the teacher’s paycheck, it’s their money, they should have the right to spend he money the way they want to,” said Hildebrand.

The Senate Committee on State Affairs is expected to discuss the legislation Monday morning. More than 100 teachers are expected to attend, lobbying lawmakers to vote against the legislation.

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