Bill Aimed At Indiana Teacher Union Clears House Committee, Now Heads To The Floor

Apr 5, 2021

A reflection of the roof of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
Credit Justin Hicks / IPB News

Teachers could be required to take extra steps to keep their union membership if legislation headed to the House floor advances after it passed a committee vote last week along party lines.

Senate Bill 251 would have teachers opt in to union membership every year while being informed of their right to not join the Indiana State Teachers Association. School districts would have to confirm their decision by email. Advocates for the bill say a Supreme Court decision means teachers have to give “affirmative consent” before union dues are deducted from their paychecks. 

But Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) disagreed that the case, often referred to as “Janus,” means teachers have to reaffirm their consent every year. 

“That’s preposterous,” he said to Vincent Vernuccio from the Mackinac Center, which touts its efforts getting workers to drop labor unions. “I’m sorry sir, that’s just absurd. There’s absolutely nothing in Janus that Justice Alito alluded [to] that this required an annual consent.”

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The legislation also lets teachers stop paying dues at any time they wish. Vernuccio and others supporting the bill took issue with how some union contracts allow teachers to leave, but they must continue paying dues until the end of the year. 

“They can opt out of membership at any time, but the catch is it’s like the Hotel California: you can opt out, but you can never leave,” Vernuccio said.

The Indiana State Teachers Association said the bill singles them out and the state AFL-CIO chapter calls it a “sneaky” attack on labor.

Senate Bill 251 is scheduled to receive a second hearing on the House floor during session Monday. 

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.