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Democrats, Campus Republicans Kill Mickelson’s Ban on Collective Bargaining

In another bit of remarkable good news from Pierre, the Senate yesterday listened to people who care about higher education and killed House Bill 1199, Speaker G. Mark Mickelson’s effort to ban employees of our public universities from collectively bargaining.

Who saved our universities from a mass exodus of talent? Democrats and university-town Republicans:

Bolin Yea Cronin Nay
Cammack Yea Ewing Nay
Curd Yea Frerichs Nay
Greenfield (Brock) Yea Haverly Nay
Klumb Yea Heinert Nay
Kolbeck Yea Jensen (Phil) Nay
Langer Yea Kennedy Nay
Maher Yea Killer Nay
Monroe Yea Nelson Nay
Netherton Yea Nesiba Nay
Otten (Ernie) Yea Novstrup Nay
Partridge Yea Rusch Nay
Peters Yea Russell Nay
Stalzer Yea Soholt Nay
Tapio Yea Sutton Nay
Wiik Yea Tidemann Nay
White Nay
Solano Excused Youngberg Nay

Republican Senators Bob Ewing (Spearfish—BHSU), Al Novstrup (Aberdeen—NSU), Arthur Rusch (Vermillion—USD), Larry Tidemann (Brookings—SDSU), Jordan Youngberg (Madison—DSU), and Terri Haverly, Phil Jensen, and Lance Russell (Rapid City—School of Mines) stuck up for their campus constituents. (Russell is a bit of a reach, but his District 30 includes some fringes of Rapid.) Senator Rusch explains his legal take:

State Senator Arthur Rusch is from Vermillion, and represents the district with the University of South Dakota

He says the union sets up a grievance process where employees can get heard.

“We are a right-to-work state. And right-to-work is all about the fact that you don’t have to join a union,” Rusch says. “But I don’t think we ought to say you can’t join the union, which is what that was trying to do” [Lee Strubinger, “Senate Kills Ban on Collective Bargaining For University Faculty,” SDPB, 2018.02.27].

Senator Brock Greenfield, whose District 2 includes a few professors’ houses in the southwest corner of Aberdeen, stuck to his mom’s grudge over his sister’s bad government class grade and voted to restrict freedom of union association on campus. Senator Jeff Partridge betrayed his Rapid City neighbors and voted to ding the ability of the School of Mines to recruit top profs. One might include Senator John Wiik in the local university traitors: his District 4 does not include Brookings proper but includes the rest of Brookings County.

But with eight campus Republicans and six Democrats on the side of professors, we only needed four more nays to kill HB 1199. In stepped moderate Senators Deb Soholt from Sioux Falls and Jim White from Huron and conservative Justin Cronin from Gettysburg. The final stopper was super-conservative Senator Stace Nelson from Fulton.

Thank you to all eighteen Senators who sawed this rung off Speaker Mickelson’s long union-busting ladder. Thank you also to the professors and other friends of education who used their voices to persuade their Senators away from this bad legislation. Now, educators and advocates of worker rights, let’s turn our attention to the 16 yeas on HB 1199 and help their districts tell them goodbye in November.


  1. Darrell Reifenrath 2018-02-28

    Pretty sure this is an ALEC or Americans for Prosperity inspired as similar bills have shown up in other states.

  2. Carol Leibiger 2018-02-28

    It could also be a local issue less related to “nimbleness” (I’ve come to hate that oft-repeated word) and more closely related to money.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-28

    Well, Darrell, if we can beat it in South Dakota, the good guys should be able to beat it elsewhere!

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-28

    “Nimbleness”—that’s code for, “Sit up and bark for our corporate overlords and Speaker at a moment’s notice,” isn’t it?

  5. Darrell Reifenrath 2018-03-02

    The model collective bargaining bill for teachers that was passed in 1974 (I was with the group that got to the capitol early and blocked the doors) was gutted last year. When Terry Branstad signed the a smiling honcho from Americans for Prosperity was standing behind him.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-04

    Darn shame, Darrell, to see your good work on behalf of the majority undermined by folks like Branstad on behalf of the wealthy and powerful minority.

  7. mike from iowa 2018-03-04

    State Preemption Laws

    Achieving corporate goals begins with targeting local government regulations that might impede corporate profits. Ostensibly to promote limited government, ALEC and its allies seek to privatize-for-profit public services, transferring the Public Commons to corporations, thus boosting the corporate bottom line at the expense of the people. Prime targets of privatization include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, public schools and state pensions.

    Furthering the assaults on workers, ALEC-allied corporations seek to ban collective bargaining for public sector unions. Also crippling unions are so-called “paycheck protection” laws that prevent assessment of union dues for political purposes without annual reauthorization from each member. ALEC-promoted “right-to-work” campaigns undermine private sector unions. Still more worker assaults preempt minimum wage increases, and require a higher burden of proof in workers’ compensation cases, while removing no-fault provisions, effectively compelling a worker who loses a claim to pay the employer’s legal fees.

  8. Darrell Reifenrath 2018-03-04

    Mike, their work is mostly complete.

  9. mike from iowa 2018-03-04

    If i remember right, wingnuts couldn’t attack unions quick enough after getting control of the congress. The pendulum will swing back the other way some time. I hope I am alive to dance on wingnut graves.

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