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Senate committee drops required elections from teacher union bill (updated)

The Indiana State Teacher Association building, located directly across the street from the Indiana statehouse.
The Indiana State Teacher Association building, located directly across the street from the Indiana statehouse.
Scott Elliott

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Senate Bill 538 would have required every school district in the state to reaffirm in a new election that they want union representation, but that requirement was deleted by an amendment to the bill.)

A bill aimed at teachers union was revised today to drop a requirement that would have required teachers in every school district in the state to reaffirm in a new election that they want union representation.

The amended bill passed the Indiana Senate’s Pension and Labor Committee today in a close 6-5 vote.

Senate Bill 538, authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, still contains new rules that allow non-union organizations to pitch their services to represent teachers in contract negotiations, a move unions have viewed as an effort to diminish their influence and ability to serve their members.

Amendments to the bill also dropped a few other proposed changes that Indiana’s two statewide teachers unions — the Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Federation of Teachers — had opposed.

One amendment limited other organizations that could bargain for teachers to just those that have negotiating with governing bodies as a primary purpose, excluding most commercial companies. Others dropped a requirement that all labor contracts be reviewed by state officials, which some committee members said could be too costly.

But perhaps the most ominous new requirement from the original bill — which would have required elections in all of Indiana’s 289 school districts within two years to decide whether to continue with their union, pick another union or choose a different organization to represent them —is out of the bill.

A vote of the full Senate on the bill is expected as early as next week.

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