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Langer, Hansen Revive Mickelson’s Push to Ban Collective Bargaining on Campus

The anti-union spirit of Mark Mickelson lives on! In 2018, one of the crabbiest Republicans in the state tried to ban public university employees from collective bargaining. Professors found enough allies among Democrats and college-town Republicans to defeat Mickelson’s campus union-busting.

Kris Langer, Mark Mickelson, Jon Hansen
Here’s a union that could use some busting: Sen. Kris Langer, former Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, and Rep. Jon Hansen.

Mickelson slank off to focus on lawyering for CAFOs he deregulated, but Mickelson’s anti-worker, anti-education buddies are back with Senate Bill 147, which would deny employees of the Board of Regents the right to freely associate and work as a team to negotiate fair pay and working conditions. SB 147, prime-sponsored by Dell Rapids worker-haters Senator Kris Langer and Representative Jon Hansen, is gentler than Mickelson’s 2018 bill only in that it lets employees of the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind retain collective bargaining rights. But hey, the state has already systematically destroyed deaf education, and those two schools for the disabled have only a few dozen employees who can’t make nearly as much political ruckus working with disabled children as can those hundreds of nefarious, highly edumacated professors who have daily access to thousands of impressionable and energetic potential young adult activists.

SB 147 touches directly on education and worker rights, but it’s been referred to Senate State Affairs, where conservative Republican members Al Novstrup, Jordan Youngberg, and Bob Ewing will again have to balance their Breitbart-fueled anti-union impulses with the basic labor rights of key constituencies on the college campi in their hometowns. They all three voted against Mickelson’s measure in 2018; if Regental employees can remind those three of the wisdom of their vote back then, they may be able to get those three Republicans to join Democrats Craig Kennedy and Troy Heinert in killing SB 147 in committee.


  1. o 2020-01-31 08:50

    Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t employees of regental institutions already barred from negotiating wages?

  2. David Newquist 2020-01-31 11:11

    The public university and college faculty voted to organize under the a National Labor Relations Act in the late 1970s and worked under its first collective bargaining agreement in the 1979-80 academic year. Initially, the union, the Council on Higher Education, had about 80 percent of the faculty as members. It is affiliated with the South Dakota Education Association. After its initial contract went into effect, membership began to dwindle. As a union president on both the state and local levels, I was familiar with faculty attitudes and concerns. Part of the problem was that with a collective bargaining contract, issues that motivated the joining of a union were eliminated. So, faculty dropped membership because they couldn’t see paying dues for protections that were in force anyway.

    At the time, some regental campuses were under sanction by the American Association of University Professors for personnel actions that violated academic freedom standards, and COHE worked to get those sanctions removed.

    I have never heard any cogent rationale from those who want to eliminate collective bargaining, but it is a trend. Wisconsin and Iowa have reduced collective bargaining rights for public teachers. The effect is to put those states on the list of places with undesirable working conditions. Many states are experiencing teacher shortages and have filled their open positions with teachers looking to leave states with restrictive personnel policies. Wisconsin and Iowa have both experienced an increase in turnover, experienced teachers leaving the profession, and a great reduction in the years of experience among teaching staffs.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-01-31 12:05

    O, I’m not sure. I assumed collective bargaining covered all working conditions. Working profs, can you clarify for us?

  4. Donald Pay 2020-01-31 13:27

    David Newquist is correct. As a result of that law and budget cuts there was an exodus from the UW-Wisconsin system during Walker’s administration. We lost lots of research dollars as established profs and their labs and grad students exited the state. It hurt the university severely. Right now there is lots of agitation by grad researchers and teaching assistance regarding working conditions in labs and classrooms. Profs are somewhat protected by faculty governance rules here that Walker couldn’t touch, though he tried.

  5. Debbo 2020-01-31 20:21

    Adjunct profs and teaching assistants at a few colleges in Minnesota have unionized. They were just about there at Macalester College but the admin gave them everything they wanted so they wouldn’t. Kind of funny.

    All full, asst and assoc profs are unionized at every campus. Well, might be a few small private college exceptions.

  6. Bob Newland 2020-01-31 22:57

    G. Marky is one of the biggest POSs in the history of SoDak.

  7. Debbo 2020-01-31 23:13

    True, Bob. He’d be right at home with Moscow Mitch and the Traitor Boys.

  8. Roger Beranek 2020-01-31 23:31

    It’s interesting that a primary function of a private market is to set the prices according to the actual value in a supply/demand relationship, which would rectify any problems in Wisconsin caused by exiting teachers, but because it is a government monopoly the artificial prices and conditions that were created by having collective bargaining against the public are ill-equipped to deal with changes. Still, while it IS morally superior to restrict or end public employee unions, its much preferrable to remove all the crutches of the public monopoly and then let them all unionize as they wish – provided its open-shop unionization.

  9. Donald Pay 2020-02-01 09:26

    Sorry, Roger Beranek, Scott Walker hated the free market AND he hated higher education. He was a college dropout, and he thought the best way to get ahead was not to study, but was patronage. The the right behinds, and you get high enough that you can take retribution on the kids who do the work.

    The rich, of course, donated money to his campaign, and he made sure they got paid off. Let’s not forget the multi-billion dollar give away to Foxconn. “Free market” to Walker meant if Trump needed a fake business expansion to tout, Walker was willing to give it multi-billion dollar handouts to make it look like Don the Con was making the economy click here in Wisconsin. Well, all those dollars were taken from the University System, where real jobs are created. Foxconn is why Walker got dis-elected. It’s a complete hoax. I hope Democrats are smart enough to pound the Foxxcon con against Trump. It will end his tyranny.

  10. Haley Mills 2020-02-01 15:57

    What do you expect from the lamest state in the Union. The state is always last in education that’s why the people are the stupidest, and the people they elect are even stupider.

  11. Roger Beranek 2020-02-02 10:29

    Um…Sure. You do realize that Foxconn has received absolutely zero in tax credits thus far? Zero. It’s based on the capital investment and the number of employees at a minimum salary. It MAY get credits when it files this year, but even that is uncertain. I’m not terribly fond of states fishing for big flashy businesses to tout as creating employment but beyond unnecessarily building up infrastructure in the locality with state underwriting, the deal Scott Walker made didn’t hurt Wisconsin or the university system there, (which gets tons of state subsidizing for wasteful infrastructure every year) and is as fat as any state subsidized university system.

    A fair story on that deal as of last month:

  12. Roger Beranek 2020-02-02 12:19

    Haley Mills: What do I expect? perhaps more than weak unsubstantiated insults.

    1. would place SD at 18th, not even below average, let alone last


    This breaks it down a bit, so that we can tease out actual outcomes (Y) rather than including junk like spending or adult income (not even controlled for regional cost of living differences.) Out of curiousity I excluding the Native population outcomes (X) from SD overall (Z) since that population is a significant part of S.D. and their results can be viewed as distinct from the general quality of the public school system controlled for that.
    Math (33.7-.09×14.3)/.91=35.62% – 18th
    Reading (34.4-.09×25)/.91=35.3% – 25th
    Graduation (85-.09×54)/.91=88.1% – 9th
    Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree (28.9-.09×10.2)/.91=30.7% – 22nd

    I know other states likely can justify a similar adjustment, but only in a few would the demographic with terrible outcomes be significant enough to greatly alter the ranking. In any case South Dakota is nowhere near last in education.

  13. Mary kraljic 2020-02-20 04:26

    Apologies if someone else has already replied to O’s question about negotiating salaries. O is correct. The COHE Union cannot negotiate salaries. Our contract does include percentage increases that come with promotions from assistant to associate to full professor status. But the state legislature controls money for annual raises for all state employees.

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