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Pro-Teacher Legislation in Colorado Gains Steam
posted by: Alix | April 20, 2012, 05:43 PM   

As reported recently on the AAE blog, despite record-breaking growth among non-union teacher organizations, local AAE recruiters and state partners have experienced tremendous hurdles in establishing equal treatment among competing associations in states across the country. Whether it is the inability to attend a new teacher orientation or access to payroll deduction services, non-union associations are constantly passed over in favor of powerful teacher union interests. Despite this climate, there is renewed hope for teachers seeking options in Colorado, as House Bill 1333 was recently introduced to promote fairness among teacher associations and union and non-union teachers alike.

Currently in many of Colorado's largest school districts, teachers are required to pay union dues unless they cancel their membership during a 2-3 week window in the fall. In a Denver Post editorial, a teacher member of AAE's state organization, the Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE), discussed this inequity and her experience trying to drop union membership. "It shouldn't be harder for a teacher to opt out of paying member dues than it is to cancel your cable or terminate a cell phone contract," she challenged.

House Bill 1333 would end this unfair policy by ensuring that teachers be afforded the right to revoke their membership in any association, at any time and for any reason. Whether a teacher wanted to drop for financial or political reasons, no teacher would be forced into membership dues for the year with any teacher association. For the record, PACE and AAE have no such revocation period policies and teachers may join or drop at any time.

Similarly in the Colorado, PACE members in Jefferson County were recently denied access to payroll deduction of PACE dues. The payroll clerk cited budget issues; however, the union enjoys this privilege. When PACE offered to reimburse the district for the cost of processing payroll deduction, the district declined. In order to promote fairness in implementing this tax-payer funded privilege, HB 1333 would require school districts to honor the payroll deduction of all active teacher associations in the state.

Finally, in an effort to promote transparency among teacher associations, HB 1333 would ensure all teacher associations disclose how they spend membership dues to members and prospective members. This provision would enable teachers to make informed decisions about association membership.

The fact is this legislation is pro-teacher choice. As supporters of the bill, AAE and PACE recognize the potential in this legislation to put teachers in the driver's seat. House Bill 1333 takes the state and school districts out of an inappropriate position of deciding which private employee associations shall and shall not have payroll deduction privileges. As a result, teachers will be empowered to make financial decisions that best fit their budget and beliefs at any time of the year and for any reason.

Further, HB 1333 provides teacher and education employees with added protections of understanding how their membership dues are used. It makes sense that if a taxpayer-funded payroll deduction service is used, that the state government ensures that there is accountability and fairness in the process.

While there has been talk of a compromise to win over union-backed legislators, the bill as it stands would be a win for teachers across Colorado. No longer beholden to unfair union influences, teachers would be free to make decisions based on their own unique needs and beliefs.

Click here for more information about HB 1333.

What do you think about this proposed bill?
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