Pierre – Senate Majority Leader Kris Langer of Dell Rapids introduced legislation to ban faculty from entering into collective bargaining agreements with the state’s six public universities. The bill targets the Council of Higher of Education (COHE), an affiliate of the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA), from continuing to bargaining with the South Dakota Board of Regents. Similar legislation was introduced in 2018 by then Speaker of the House, Mark Mickelson of Sioux Falls. That bill was defeated by the state senate. The following comments can be attributed to SDEA President Mary McCorkle.
“Here we go again. This is the second round of attacks on the university faculty. SB 147 is yet another attempt to silence the voice of educators and a bill that is a solution seeking a problem. The truth is more problems will be created by making it more difficult for the state’s six public universities to recruit and retain world class faculty for students. This was our main concern two years ago and that remains the same concern today.”
“The collective bargaining process has worked at the university level for more than 30 years. Did the Board of Regents recently sound the alarm on collective bargaining? The answer is, no. As a matter of fact, the Regents have expressed concerns over salary competitiveness issues with university systems in other states. Ending collective bargaining does not solve that problem.”
“Banning collective bargaining will only create more uncertainty for faculty and students alike. There will be less transparency for taxpayers if the balance of power tilts only to one side. All of this will have a negative impact on the academic environment in which our students learn and grow academically. Instead of putting up barriers to attracting the best talent to our universities, perhaps legislators should spend their time helping the Board of Regents fund its Dakota Promise Initiative, which will help more low- income students obtain a degree from one of South Dakota’s outstanding universities.”
SDEA is South Dakota’s largest education professionals’ organization, representing more than 6,000 elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.