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Union Legislation Developments
posted by: Alix | April 11, 2011, 04:07 PM   

Beginning in Wisconsin, legislation aimed at curbing union power, advancing education reform policy, and ending forced unionism has spread across the country. Currently states in every part of the country are in various stages of passing their own laws as the protests and debates rage on. The national unions and their state counterparts are on the defensive, organizing large ballot initiative campaigns and considering increasing their dues to pay for their efforts to preserve their monopolies. Make sure to follow the news in your state by reading AAE's daily blog posts.

Ohio- Senate Bill 5 was signed into law almost two weeks ago but the controversy has yet to subside as opponents, including the Ohio Education Association, have vowed to repeal the law. The legislation is seen as the most far reaching of any other state, with language that ends collective bargaining and forced unionism.

A coalition of public employee unions have vowed to collect signatures to force a referendum on November's ballot, effectively stopping the measure in its tracks. The Ohio Education Association is even considering charging an additional mandatory fee of $50 per member to help in their efforts to stop the law. The coalition leading the petition drive will need more than 230,000 signatures by June 30, 2011 to put a referendum on November's ballot.

Wisconsin- Last week a Wisconsin judge put the brakes on their union reform legislation for an estimated two months. A judge ruled to delay the law, issuing a restraining order while she considers if Republicans passed it illegally. The controversy stems from a possible breach in procedure from Wisconsin Republicans. The state has appealed the order to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but the court has not yet indicated whether it will hear the case.

With the Wisconsin Supreme Court expected to play such a critical role in the legislation's fate, the unions organized a massive campaign to oust conservative Justice David T. Prosser, an incumbent on the court facing reelection. Despite their massive spending and organizing, Justice Prosser was reelected by over 14,000 votes. Political insiders are calling Prosser's victory a referendum of Governor Walker's legislation.

Indiana- After Indiana's state legislator temporarily shelved strong legislation aimed at curbing union power, the state moved on to focus on legislation that would expand charter schools in the state and is now moving on to a potential final vote in the Senate.

Senators added over 13 amendments to the charter bill. Among the changes, one amendment requires at least 90 percent of a charter school's teachers to hold a teaching license. Previously, the bill required at least 75 percent of the teachers in a charter school to be licensed.

Another change includes a list of 30 nonprofit private colleges and universities in the state that offer four-year degrees and may be permitted to sponsor new charter schools. Bethel College, Goshen College, Holy Cross College, Saint Mary's College and the University of Notre Dame are on the list of possible charter backers.

The Senate will vote on the bill in the next few days. Due to the changes, the bill will have to go back to the House for the changes to be approved. The Indiana teacher's union does not support expanding charter schools during current economic times.

Idaho- Idaho Governor Otter signed the final piece of controversial education legislation into law on Friday, as teacher union leaders are vowing to fight the measure.

The law forces districts to equip high schools with advanced technologies, much to the disdain of the union who claims the funding will force lay-offs.

"By spending what we currently have differently, we will reform our public education system to invest in Idaho's great teachers, create the 21st century classroom and put our students first," Tom Luna, the state's schools chief, who wrote and backed the legislation, said in a statement. The measure was the last of three Republican-backed education bills that Otter has signed into law in recent weeks.

Union leaders are seeking to get the laws overturned. They filed their latest petition on Friday in a bid to get opposition to the latest bill as a referendum before voters. Opponents have less than two months to gather more than 47,000 registered Idaho voters' signatures, in order to get the measure on the November ballot.

While the legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio have sparked most of the national headlines, there are a whopping 729 bills currently pending in 48 different states dealing with unions and collective bargaining according to a new database compiled by the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures.

The database is updated every two weeks. Click here to customize your search.

Do you think you will be affected by the legislation in your state?
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