Under the email subject heading “Special edition! Action needed!” Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), our state’s teachers union, rallies its members to take action against legislation under consideration by the Kansas Legislature. Kansans ought to be aware of the faulty arguments the union makes.
The legislation is HB 2023. The fiscal note for the bill summarizes it as follows: “HB 2023 relates to professional employees’ organizations (PEOs). The bill makes it unlawful for any PEO to use any dues, fees, assessments or any period payment deducted from a member’s paycheck for the purpose of engaging in political activities. If a member wishes to donate money for political activity by the PEO, a specific donation must be made to a separate fund so designated. The bill defines political activity for the purpose of enforcement of its provisions. The bill amends the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA) to make it unlawful for a public employee organization to spend any of its income to engage in public activities.”
Here are some of the claims and arguments KNEA uses.
KNEA: HB 2023 takes away a worker’s control over his or her own paycheck.
It’s laughable that an organization whose primary purpose is to garner as much tax revenue as possible would complain about control over paychecks. KNEA, where is your concern for taxpayers’ paychecks?
KNEA: Aren’t Republicans all about keeping government OUT of our personal lives?
No. Many — okay, most — Republicans support all sorts of intrusions into our personal lives.
KNEA: Why does this bill restrict union political activity while corporate political activity is entirely unregulated even if the corporation derives much of its income from government contracts?
This argument fails to recognize the difference between government and the private sector. The public schools are the embodiment of government, even though they hate the term “government schools.” Their revenue is conscripted from unwilling taxpayers. While taxpayers might also dislike paying for everything the government purchases from corporations, most government contracts are put for competitive bid. I wonder: Would public schools be willing to compete for students, like corporations must compete for government contracts? The answer can be found in the KNEA’s attitude towards school choice, which is absolutely not.
KNEA: Why does this bill restrict union political activity while corporate political activity is entirely unregulated even without the consent of stockholders?
In most situations stockholders are able to voluntarily select the corporations whose shares they want to own. But taxpayers are not able to choose whether to support public schools and their unions.
By the way, in defined benefit pension plans like KPERS, which teachers belong to, there is no choice in the investments the plan makes on your behalf.