First the Good News:
Now for the Continued Attack on the Teaching Profession:House bill 418 passed a carefully stacked committee of the House Labor and Industrial Affairs Committee Thursday despite much vocal opposition from teacher, police, and firemen unions. This is the bill that would prohibit teachers and other public employees from using payroll deduction for payment of their union or association dues. Our state government is 1.8 billion dollars in deficit, and public employees are subject to layoffs, pay freezes, and outright cuts, yet big business (LABI) and teacher haters want to pass legislation that reduces the influence of professional educators, but does not save the state or local governments one penny!
HB 418 is cynically named the Payroll Protection Bill. These union hating legislators pretend with the use of this title that teachers, police, and firemen are like innocent children who need for their big brothers in government to protect them from the "evil" unions. Payroll deduction will still be available for numerous charities, insurance policies, and even highly questionable cancer polices that are considered by the insurance industry to be little more than rip-off polices. Our big buisness bosses in LABI don't care about the teachers that may be preyed upon by all of these other groups. They only want to protect teachers from their own organizations that are dedicated to fighting for teacher rights and benefits.
Are those big buisness interests such as LABI and CABL concerned about the innaccuracy of VAM ratings, or the serious flaws in the new evaluation system, or the loss of seniority for teachers, or the interference of the LDOE in enforcement of student discipline, or the fact that now some teachers are being required to work many extra hours without pay? No, in fact they helped sponsor and lobby for these changes. But they do want to neutralize their biggest upponents in beating up on teachers!
I am proud to say that even though retired, I am a lifetime member of the Louisiana Association of Educators and I also have great respect and support for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. I worked for 20 years as a staff member of the LAE and helped to win many important battles for teachers. I am now watching helplessly and frustrated the de-professionalization of teaching. It is sad to regularly get letters from dedicated teachers who are being driven out of the teaching profession because of the many ant-teacher policies and laws passed in recent years.
HB 418 will be going to a vote on the House floor probably the week after next. That means that every Representative will get to vote whether or not they want to deny educators one more benefit and whether they really want to stifle the voice of teachers in speaking out against bad education policies and in favor of improving benefits and status of the teaching profession. No, this won't destroy the teacher unions if it passes, but statistics show that when you deny a group of employees payroll deduction for the payment of union or association dues, the membership of those organizations declines and their influence is curtailed. This bill has nothing to do with Payroll Protection! Its only purpose is to reduce the influence of educators on education policy.