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

(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.