(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – On Thursday, the Arkansas Senate passed Senate Bill 473, dubbed the “Teacher Paycheck Protection Bill,” by a margin of 26-7.
The measure now heads to the state’s House of Representatives.
A day earlier, the Kentucky Senate gave final passage to a similar measure that had been vetoed by Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear.
Paycheck protection bills are also working their way through the state legislatures in Florida and Tennessee.
During the Arkansas Senate floor debate, much of the discussion centered around union bullying and ostracization due to membership status in public school systems.
“This bill is about removing any potential fear or intimidation in the workplace,” explained Sen. Joshua Bryant (R-Rogers), the bill’s author. “The technology is there to be able to pay our dues direct. Why do we have to go through and fill out a form, check a box and annually let people know what we’re doing? Why can’t we just take this like we do everything else and take it to our home?”
Bryant continued, “I just want to restate that this bill does not force anybody to do something which they do not agree with or have a passion to support but it does take the potential for workplace fears and intimidation out of our workforce.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro), an educator for 30 years, noted, “Every school that I was ever in had the discussion about joining the union, and it was mostly a political discussion and there was pressure in every instance about joining the union so that you could support certain causes. The idea that this doesn’t happen, in my experience, is not true.”
The senators also discussed how the National Education Association (NEA) spends its Arkansas dues dollars.
“In researching this and talking to folks, the biggest thing that frustrated me was that about a third of the (union) budget doesn’t even stay in Arkansas … that’s a concerning thing,” Sen. Tyler Dees (R-Siloam Springs) pointed out.
“Given the readily available technology, there’s no logical reason the state still needs to be the unions’ debt collector,” said Freedom Foundation southern director Rusty Brown. “To make matters worse, Sen. Dees’ is correct. A huge portion of the dues collected by the state of Arkansas doesn’t even remain in the state; it’s sent straight to NEA headquarters to feed its massive bureaucracy”.
“Just this week,” Brown continued, “NEA President Becky Pringle admitted on a Department of Labor panel that ‘education justice must be about racial justice, it must be about social justice, it must be about climate justice.’”
“They’re using this money to turn our schools into indoctrination camps,” Brown concluded. “Arkansas made a huge investment in teachers and the education system this year but at the same time, the state is collecting and sending money to the NEA in D.C. to fight against everything Arkansas is trying to accomplish.”