Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill that would change the way schools could negotiate contracts with teachers.
In the first few days of this legislative session, lawmakers have proposed bills targeting public sector unions and Tuesday focused on teachers.
House Bill 2085 drew teachers unions, school board presidents and advocates from the metro to Topeka, KS, Tuesday.
"They're going to try and silence our political voice," said Nancy Fritz, the Shawnee Mission School's National Education Association president, said.
Fritz is the president of the teacher's union for Shawnee Mission schools and said the bill, which aims to eliminate one exclusive collective bargaining unit in districts, destroys the voice of thousands of educators.
"That is the only avenue teachers have in order to work out any concerns we might have for working conditions, salary, hours things like that."
Olathe School Board President Amy Martin testified against one part of the bill which gives boards sole authority on evaluation procedures.
"Right now I feel that our board is a part of a team and that team includes our teachers and our administrators. I think the legislation will go a long way to change that feel. I believe it will exclude teachers from the table," Martin said.
Labor Committee Chairman Marvin Kleeb from Overland Park, KS, said the bill simply gives the tools school administrators have asked for behind closed doors.
"We have to remember, in the private sector, all this happens anyways. We're kind of hung up on this negotiation thing," Kleeb said.
Lawmakers compared teachers' unions to a monopoly, unfairly dominating public money, but Kleeb denies the new proposed legislation has anything to do with destroying the union.
"This bill is meant to assist our school boards, our superintendents and our administrators in the administration of their schools - to enhance the educational opportunities to their children," he said.
House Bill 2085 challenges the 43-year-old Professional Negotiations Act that Kansas passed to avoid chaotic contract negotiations. It could take weeks before the committee votes on the bill.
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