Passage of Senate Bill 7 was nothing more than a direct attack on the collective voice of public sector unions in Kentucky, including public school educators and their ability to advocate for their students, public schools, and professions. Educators across the commonwealth are thankful for the governor’s veto and encourage educators and parents to contact their elected representatives, asking them not to support a veto override of SB7.
The scope of problems detailed in Governor Beshear’s veto message about Senate Bill 7 makes it very clear that this bill is the perfect example of hyper-partisan legislative zeal gone too far. In their unsubtle attempt to silence their political opposition by ending payroll deductions for some public employee unions, the General Assembly hit some unintended targets. The bill, as written, effectively ends payroll deduction for any entity for any purpose.
Labor organizations in the commonwealth, including KEA, serve an important purpose. First, we give a collective voice to public educator and public employee concerns. Second, we protect members’ employment interests by advocating for better pay, benefits, policy, and working and learning conditions. Finally, when necessary, we hold the legislature to account by challenging their most egregious unconstitutional acts.
In response to not getting what they want, the legislature is using authority to try and silence the voice and opposition. The ‘slate of hate’ that they have promoted throughout this session tells every voter all we need to know about their agenda. Instead of focusing on the real issues impacting our public schools, such as the educator shortage, professional pay, and student learning conditions, the General Assembly turned its attention to trying to weaken public sector unions under the guise of ‘the administration of payroll systems.’ Senate Bill 7 is clearly not about the administration of payroll systems. It’s also not about protecting public school students, public educators, or public school resources. But it is very obviously about politicians protecting themselves from accountability for bad policies and misdirected priorities.
Public and private labor will always be here and will always have a voice – with or without payroll dues deduction. The collective voice of public school educators will not be deterred or silenced by SB7, even if it becomes law. KEA has been advocating for Kentucky educators, students, and communities for more than 160 years and will continue to do so. Politicians come and go. But KEA is here to stay.