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West Virginia Senate bills could subtract money from teachers’ unions, their leaders


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON,W.Va. — The West Virginia Senate is on the verge of passing Senate Bill 335, which supporters and opponents say would require school employee union members to annually re-agree to have part of their county public school system-issued paychecks withheld to pay union dues.

And on Wednesday, the Senate Pensions Committee took up Senate Bill 494, which would erase language in current law saying that officers “with a statewide professional teaching association” still get credit, for state teachers retirement benefit purposes, for years of service they spend on leave working as officers rather than as teachers.

Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, is the lead sponsor of SB 335, which is scheduled for a final vote Friday in the Senate before heading to the House of Delegates. And, while Karnes isn’t a sponsor of SB 494, he chose, as the relatively new chairman of Senate Pensions, to bring the bill up in his committee, which discussed but didn’t act on it Wednesday.

Karnes, who’s also the Senate Education Committee vice chairman, said SB 494 would only affect two current positions in the state — the presidents of the state’s arms of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association — but said he believes it would only impact the people who take over from the current leaders.

Dale Lee is the current president of the West Virginia Education Association, and Christine Campbell is president of the state’s AFT branch.

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