At the direct expense of local control, efficiency, and school employee benefits, SB 634 mandates several requirements that will negatively impact Oklahoma teachers, support employees, and school districts. This has many Oklahomans asking a simple question: Why?
Final Chance — Act Now: Forward Pre-Written Letter Opposing SB 634 to Your Local Representative (Click Here).
In the midst of an extremely trying year battling COVID-19 obstacles, funding shortages, and a number of other challenges, Oklahoma school employees can add SB 634 to the list. SB 634 imposes several new restrictions on any school employee who uses payroll deduction services to pay membership dues. These dues pay for services like a $2 million liability insurance policy, legal representation and consultation, professional learning seminars, and a whole host of other services and benefits, which are available to all school employees.
No School Districts Requested SB 634; And No School Employees Were Consulted About the Impacts. In fact, They Oppose the Bill.
It’s worth mentioning that Professional Oklahoma Educators (POE) is unaware of any teacher, support employee, administrator, superintendent, or school board member who requested this bill or worked with lawmakers to develop it. But you don’t have to take our word for it, this was openly admitted during the Senate floor debate. In a recent survey of over 1,400 POE members, an overwhelming majority of respondents (94.71%) indicated they are strongly opposed or opposed to limiting teacher payroll deduction services. SB 634 directly limits payroll deduction services for school employees by implementing an overly burdensome process — a process that is explicitly designed to place unwanted barriers and pitfalls in the way of school employees attempting to use payroll deduction services.
On March 4, 2021, SB 634 passed the Senate by a single vote. The bill is now headed to the House Floor. If it passes the House, it will become state law. However, the widespread opposition to SB 634 is growing across the state — join the movement now.
SB 634 Complicates and Burdens a Straightforward Payroll Deduction System.
Within Oklahoma’s current payroll system, school employees can easily opt into any payroll deduction agreement by signing a single form. Opting out of a payroll deduction agreement is even easier; anyone can conveniently opt out at any time, for any reason by sending a simple email, fax, or letter. POE strongly supports protecting the right of school employees to easily initiate and terminate any payroll deduction agreement, for any reason, at any time, without state interference.
SB 634 complicates this straightforward system by imposing a multistep, technical reauthorization process that must be completed each school year before the first pay period. If a school employee fails to complete this reauthorization process for any reason, then the employee’s payroll deduction agreement is automatically terminated on one’s behalf without one’s expressed consent.
Here’s how the new process would work: First, any school employee who desires to pay membership dues via payroll deduction must locate and complete an official state-issued form expressing their desire to do so. The official state form requires an official signature. Once the form is completed; the school employee must deliver it to the local payroll clerk or other specified district employee. Second, once the official form is completed, signed, and submitted, the district employee must then send a verification email to one’s official school email address to ensure the form was not filled-out, signed, and turned-in by mistake. But the district’s verification email is not enough. Once the school employee receives the district’s verification email, the employee must then verify the district’s verification email by responding with his or her own verification email. If the process is not adhered to exactly — like, for example a teacher who may forget to respond to a particular email during the beginning of the year, which would never happen — then one’s payroll deduction agreement is terminated on one’s behalf.
SB 634 Mandates Harmful Impacts for All School Employees and School Districts — Five Key Points:
- Oklahoma’s teachers and school employees did not ask for this bill, nor were they consulted in its development. In fact, they were intentionally left out; SB 634 did not pass the Education Committee in the Senate or the House. That is because the bill was never assigned to those committees even though it’s an education bill that directly affects school employees. Instead, the bill was assigned to non-education committees so it could be passed through without drawing attention. But this tactic failed, close to 1000 school employees have already voiced their opposition through letters and phone calls, and the list of opposition is growing.
- Supporters of this bill say it protects the free speech of teachers and school employees, but it does the opposite – it places the state right in the middle of their affairs. SB 634 intentionally imposes governmental barriers and pitfalls to hinder teachers from spending their own money as they see fit. This is paramount to limiting free speech. More red tape does not equal more freedom.
- SB 634 drastically increases the workload and stress of every school payroll clerk and payroll department. The drastic increase of work consists entirely of unneeded and unwanted paperwork at an additional expense to local schools.
- The bill increases the risk that a school employee’s liability insurance will inadvertently lapse. Scenarios in which school employees must use their liability policies often include expenses totaling more than $1 million. An inadvertent policy lapse would be absolutely devastating. Without a good reason or clear benefit, SB 634 directly increases the chances of one’s liability insurance lapsing.
- SB 634 unnecessarily complicates an efficient and well-liked payroll deduction system. It intentionally imposes unwanted obstacles and unnecessary red tape to deter teachers and school employees from joining a professional organization.