Texas is a so-called “right to work” state, has been since 1947 and, in all likelihood, will be for many years to come. That partly explains the enthusiasm for worker-bashing that prevails among many state legislators and also points to the absurdity that such worker-bashing represents.
To be sure, this worker-bashing includes teacher-bashing and a similar attack on thousands of other school employees whose work is critical to preparing the next generation for a successful future. And, in the closing critical days of the legislative session, this attack has become embodied in one piece of legislation, Senate Bill 1968, which would deprive educators and most other public employees of the simple security and convenience of having the membership dues they give to TSTA and other unions and professional organizations automatically deducted from their paychecks.
Payroll dues deduction is a benign administrative practice that has been going on for years, and there is absolutely no public policy reason to repeal it. Membership in unions or any other organization is voluntary, and dues can’t be used for political contributions. School districts aren’t demanding a change, and some districts have even gone on record against the bill. Yet the Senate, which has approved a long list of bad legislation this session, has approved this measure, and its fate will be determined in the House within the next few days.
Like other public employees in Texas, teachers can’t bargain collectively and can’t strike. But they should have the right to control what happens to their own paychecks.
Through no coincidence, Senate Bill 1968 would allow certain organizations, including the openly political 501c4 “dark money” groups, to continue to be funded through payroll deductions. These groups don’t have to divulge their funding sources, despite the fact they or their related political arms actively attempt to influence legislation, including the promotion of bills to spend our tax dollars to privatize our public schools.
Educators and other public employees are experts in their professions and, as such, are a strong threat to these privateers. So Senate Bill 1968 seeks to punish them.