ATPE News Magazine

Spring 2017 | Volume 37 | Issue 3

What Is REALLY Going on with Payroll Deduction?

If you have been reading about education issues in the legislature, you likely know that there is a multi-pronged attack on public education, including offensives toward again cutting important educator protections and siphoning off resources to non-accountable private schools in the name of “choice.” The final prong is a direct assault on those who defend public education—educator groups like ATPE.

This attack takes the form of two bills filed in the current legislature, House Bill 510 (HB 510), authored by Rep. Sarah Davis, and Senate Bill 13 (SB 13), authored by Sen. Joan Huffman. These bills would revoke a law that has existed since 1995 that requires school districts to allow staff to pay their professional dues through payroll deduction and pass any cost on to the organization. Let’s fact check some misconceptions about these payroll deduction bills.

Myth: Texas educators and public school district staff can be required to join a union or professional organization.

Fact: No one working for a school district can be required to join an organization.

Texas is a “right to work” state. No public school employee can be required to join a union or professional association in order to get or keep a job. Texas Education Code 21.407 specifically prohibits a public school district or anyone representing or acting on behalf of a public school district from requiring or coercing anyone to join any union or professional association.

Myth: Payroll deduction costs Texas taxpayers money.

Fact: The costs can be passed on to the organization.

Texas Education Code 22.001 allows school districts to pass costs on to the organization.

Myth: The government should not be in the business of collecting dues for employee organizations, and these bills prevent that conflict.

Fact: Both bills allow governmental payroll deduction for some groups, even some unions.

These bills specifically say that the government can still process payroll deduction requests for dues, even union dues, for firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers. The bills also allow governmental entities, including public school districts, to use payroll deduction for charitable organizations, like United Way and the American Cancer Society.

So what’s the difference? Why won’t you be allowed to use payroll deduction when other public servants will?

During a Feb. 13 Senate committee hearing, SB 13 author Sen. Joan Huffman stated that she was exempting first responders from her bill because they “serve the community … with great honor and distinction” and “they generally don’t interfere with the business interests of the state of Texas.”

Does the legislature consider educators less valuable than firefighters and police officers? It certainly seems so. What business interests is the state afraid that educators will interfere with? What is REALLY going on with payroll deduction?

These are things all educators should be asking their legislators.

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