Kan. House Committee Takes Up Union Bargaining Bill

Mar 7, 2013

There was standing room only for a committee hearing on a bill that would limit Kansas teacher's bargaining rights.
Credit Stephen Koranda / KPR

A Kansas House committee has heard from supporters and opponents of a bill that would limit the bargaining rights of teachers.

The legislation would cut back on the items school districts are required to negotiate with unions from more than two dozen to five. Supporters of the change say it will allow administrators to allocate resources and respond to demands on the education system.

Ken Willard is a member of the Kansas Board of Education and he headed a school efficiency task force created by Gov. Sam Brownback.

"My reading of the bill leads me to understand it would provide more flexibility for school administrators and school boards to manage staff resources and differentiate compensation based on the teacher assignment, difficulty of assignment and performance," said Willard. 

But opponents of the bill call it an attack on teachers and say it could hurt classroom outcomes by creating teachers who aren't satisfied with their work environments. 

"This bargaining law that we have now does not get in the way of success in educating kids," said David Schauner of the Kansas National Education Association, a union representing teachers."The proposal gets in the way of giving the people who do that work  a legitimate voice in the process." 

Dozens of educators filled the hearing so it was standing room only. They sometimes scoffed or laughed at comments made by supporters of the bill.

The House commerce committee will continue hearings on the bill Friday.