The president of the Wichita teachers union spoke out Thursday against what he called “a concerted effort to silence public sector employees” in the Kansas Legislature.
Randy Mousley, president of United Teachers of Wichita, which represents about 4,000 Wichita teachers, said a bill that would bar automatic, voluntary deductions from teachers’ paychecks to support union-backed political activities and another that would eliminate collective bargaining amount to “open season on teachers” and unions.
“The idea that taxpayers need to be protected from public sector employees is outrageous,” Mousley said during a news conference Thursday at the union office in downtown Wichita.
“If the taxpayers of Kansas need protection from anyone, it is from politicians like (Senate President) Susan Wagle.”
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Wagle, R-Wichita, and other supporters of the bill, which passed the House last week, have said many Kansas residents don’t agree with public unions’ or teachers’ positions on issues and the state should not be involved in channeling money to support those views.
Mousley called on teachers and others to petition local representatives to oppose the proposed bills. One would limit teachers’ rights to lobby in favor of increased education funding or for bond issues, as the Wichita union did in 2000 and 2008, he said.
“Since a teacher’s working conditions are a child’s learning conditions, attacking teachers is the same as attacking children,” he said.
“Make no mistake: The bills being written and discussed and voted on in Topeka will hurt the public schools of Kansas.”