Leadership within McPherson's local teacher's union do not agree with proposed limits in their payroll deductions.
The Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill in late January that would bar automatic, voluntary deductions from paychecks to support union-backed political activities. It now awaits a Senate vote to move forward, and if passed, would follow similar bills passed in several other states.
Teachers' payroll is one of many state employee payrolls that would be affected.
“There's really no purpose for this bill other than to target public sector unions and trying to make the job of the public sector unions that much more difficult to do,” said Inge Esping, vice president of McPherson Education Association, under the branch of the National Education Association. “There are so many pressing concerns, why are we wasting time on something that seems so petty?”
Representatives for and against the measure have presented their views to the Senate Commerce Committee recently.
Supporters of the bill have said it would remove the government out of the money collecting process and would still allow individuals to support political action. This would prevent taxpayers from supporting union positions they don't agree with.
It is also intended to prevent unions from pressuring members to make contributions.
Jennifer Vernon, president of McPherson Education Association, said she has never felt pressured, however.
“They (the National Education Association) have made it very clear that if we don't want to donate to it (political action campaigns), we don't have to include it on our payment,” she said. “I realize the recommendations from the National Education Association are based on education issues only. I still need to be an informed voter before I make my decision.”
Vernon also said she has never received the impression from McPherson's district that payroll deductions are a significant burden.
Those who have opposed the bill in Topeka have said the bill is broad and its restrictions could go beyond restriction political support and enter into restrictions on ideological issues, such as testifying on worker safety or education.
This debate is one of several proposed measures that Democrats and union representatives see as eroding the rights of public employees to participate in the political process, according to the Associated Press.
“Is it going to affect what I do day to day in my classroom, absolutely not,” Esping said. “But I do feel that it does infringe on some of my rights from being allowed to use some of the money that I earn in the way I choose to. I'm here with the kids, I don't have time to be in Topeka. For me, it's helpful to have someone I know that does have my best interests as and educator at heart to be able to lobby for those views as a legislator.”