Big Things Happening

Both the Courts and the Legislature have been busy with activities that will have a profound affect on teachers and public education. Some of it is good news and some of it is devastating.

The most important of these is the Janus v ASFCME. The Supreme Court has heard the Janus case and a decision is due later this month or in June. Janus argued that requiring public employees to pay money to a union is a violation of their 1st amendment rights. They allege that it requires them to pay for a public employee labor union activities including political activities that they may not agree with. Under Janus, bargaining unit members who are not members of the union will not have to pay a bargaining fee while receiving the benefits of collective bargaining.

A negative decision from the Court would overturn the long standing Abood v the Detroit Board of Education US Supreme Court decision which also held that non-members money could not be used for non-collective bargaining activities such as political action but non-members are required to pay for collective bargaining activities. HSTA President Corey Roselee compares it to someone coming empty-handed but taking plates of food home when a teacher gets all the benefits of collective bargaining without paying for them.

Because the US Supreme Court is expected to rule in favor of Janus both NEA and AFSME estimate that public employee unions will lose between 20-30% of fee paying bargaining unit members.

I am not as pessimistic. I think the court will strengthen Abood and require public employee unions to demonstrate that they are not using non-member money for non-collective bargaining activities. I have my fingers crossed.

But not all news is bad. Senator Kidani continues to deal with the teacher shortage. Last session she was able to get $400,000 allocated to the UH College of Education to attract people to the teaching profession. The College of Education developed their Be a Hero program. This session Senator Kidani was able to get significant money in a stipend program to help support potential teachers get teaching degrees.

And of course, there is HSTA supported constitutional amendment that taxes residential investment property and visitor property to provide money for public education. It will be a hotly contested issue before the vote in November.

Keep your eyes and ears open for the latest developments.

By Joan Lee Husted, HEA Board Member

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