Updates: Tuesday and Wednesday, March 9-10, 2021
A new bill in the Arkansas Legislature threatens to choke public employee unions. We must rally by calling representatives to oppose it.
Senate Bill 341 of 2021 (PDF of draft) allows the termination of any state employee who engages in any labor activity while making collective bargaining illegal for those employees in Arkansas. That would include University of Arkansas faculty and staff.
It passed in a Senate floor vote Tuesday afternoon 24-6 (with 3 not voting, 1 voting present and 1 excused). It cleared committee with a unanimous vote Monday.
The debate is detailed at the Wednesday article “Senate OKs Union Restriction – Public-Employee Collective Bargaining Ban Goes to House” in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (possible subscription firewall). (Monitor progress of bill.)
Later Tuesday, the state House sent the bill to its Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor for deliberation.
Our lobbyists in Little Rock are fighting this, but we need you to contact legislators to oppose Sen. Bob Ballinger’s bill. It is sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville.
From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s reportage Tuesday (subject to subscription firewall, alternate edition):
“They can have a union. They have their association, but as far as collective bargaining, we are prohibiting it from a policy standpoint as a state.”Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark
We advise calling or emailing your own district representative immediately. Find your rep’s name and district by entering your home’s street address. This will provide you contact information.
(For future reference, ID your state senator and Senate district number with your address at Senator Search.)
Update March 23, 2021 — The Arkansas House passed SB 341 on March 22, 62-22. “Gov. Asa Hutchinson said through a spokeswoman Monday that he would sign the bill in its current form if it reaches his desk,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported in “House OKs Bill to Bar Collective Bargaining.” Only one House member spoke against the bill on the floor.
UA-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965 enjoys clear and cordial relations with the university’s administration as well as with the overall U of A System. Arkansas already has sufficient if not stringent laws governing organized labor. The potential and the implications of this unneeded proposed legislation, however, are enormous for public employees and the students and citizens whom they serve.
“Educators should be respected, not attacked.”Tracey-Ann Nelson, executive director of the Arkansas Education Association, quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
According to the newspaper, Nelson told the Senate committee Monday that SB 341 “directly targets our educators who have shown up every single day at schools and in every way possible teaching students, transporting them and serving them meals since the beginning of the pandemic, knowing they are putting themselves and their families at risk.”