The South Dakota Legislature briefly considered a Scott Walker/Wisconsin-style ban on collective bargaining for public employees in 2012. That bill quickly failed.
But our Republican legislators are still working steadily to erode what little remains of labor rights in South Dakota. Last spring, the Legislature kicked unions out of our vo-tech schools. Union-busting Speaker G. Mark Mickelson says unions at our public universities are next on his hit list:
Rep. Mark Mickelson told the Executive Board on Monday that he would work to ban labor unions that represent more than 1,000 faculty members in South Dakota.
The Sioux Falls Republican said he was inspired to bring the proposal when he chaired a panel considering moving the South Dakota School of Law to Sioux Falls from Vermillion. He said professors weren’t willing enough to teach courses on weekends or weeknights due to terms of their contracts, prompting his frustration.
“Something needs to change, these people need to be shaken up a little bit,” Mickelson said.
…”I don’t think it serves the mission of educating our kids, the pendulum swung too far,” Mickelson said [Dana Ferguson, “Lawmaker to Propose Ban on Unions at South Dakota’s Public Colleges,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.11.13].
Someone remind me: how many weeknights and weekends does Mickelson convene the House of Representatives for formal sessions?
Mickelson and his fellow Republicans are on pretty thin ice when they start talking about serving the mission of educating out college students. Letting tuition rise 32% from 2008 to 2016, appropriating less per student full-time equivalent than 41 other states, and sticking students with over 60% of the cost of the college degrees seems a far more direct hindrance to getting an education than letting profs work together to negotiate better contracts.
Conservatives complain that government gets too big and threatens our liberty. You’d think they would support teachers working together to protect themselves from a government taking away their academic freedom, imposing unfair workplace conditions, and firing them without due cause. But South Dakota’s conservatives would rather give the best professors one more reason to go work elsewhere.