It’s a special kind of cruel irony that the only state in the country with the lowest legal minimum wage, no collective bargaining rights, no Medicaid expansion, loosely regulated vouchers and charter school expansion, a school performance grading system that measures achievement over growth, and the lowest corporate flat tax in the nation allows for its state education leaders to have a group hire a public relations firm on their behalf to help control the narrative for a spectacularly flawed teacher licensure proposal that had no real teacher input.
AND at the same time be a Right to Work / At Will state.
In a summer following what could have been the toughest year yet for NC public school teachers where many have had to endure a relentless flow of mandates and extra duties, it is disheartening to think that this state is taking advantage of public employees’ inability to collectively bargain.
In fact, in North Carolina it is unlawful for public employees to have collective bargaining. And it has been brought up. Rob Schofield posted a piece in April of 2019 on NC Policy Watch that reported on an effort for all of North Carolina’s public employees to have collective bargaining rights.
More than 600,000 public employees throughout North Carolina would obtain a right that’s been denied to them for 60 years under a pair companion bills introduced in the North Carolina House and Senate and highlighted at a press event this morning in Raleigh. House Bill 710 and Senate Bill 575 would repeal North Carolina General Statute section 95-98, the six-decade-old ban on collective bargaining by public employees.
At an event in the state Legislative Building this morning, an array of public officials and advocates decried the ban as both a Jim Crow-era violation of basic human rights and an impediment to the delivery of safe, affordable and efficient public services. North Carolina public employees — including state, county and municipal workers like teachers, police officers, and firefighters — “deserve a seat at the table” said Senator Wiley Nickel (D-Wake). North Carolina is one of only three states with such a statutory ban, Nickel added — a fact he linked to low retention and high turnover rates among public workers at all levels.
The ban itself was established in the Jim Crow-era. It literally is the last holdover as far as those laws are concerned. And NC is one of seven states that makes collective bargaining illegal.
If you have been following public education issues in NC to any degree, you probably know that the John Locke Foundation, the libertarian think tank funded by Art Pope, spends an inordinate amount of time and money trying to keep public employees from unionizing – especially teachers. Here’s the argument that their education expert Dr. Terry Stoops gave in 2020 against public employee collective bargaining power:
This comes from a group that has ignored the fact that there is a court decision (LEANDRO) that already stipulates that NC has grossly underfunded public education for years and that the state has a big surplus in yearly budgets becasue it doesn’t fully fund all social services and continues to drive down corporate tax rates to nearly 0%.
Here’s another nugget from the JLF.
Ironic, that on the map above only seven states outlaw collective bargaining rights. Look at those states. Included is Texas and Arizona. They are having a hard time filling teacher vacancies. Those others which all reside in the Southeast (big surprise!) place similar restrictions to public sector employees, but North Carolina seems to distinguish itself even more.
We need to allow for unions to represent public sector employees.