What's Next for Faculty Union After Collective Bargaining Ban for BOR

Mar 9, 2020

Credit Jenifer Jones / SDPB

The Council for Higher Education, or COHE, is continuing contract negotiations with the Board of Regents even after a bill banning collective bargaining for public faculty passes the statehouse.

COHE is a branch of the South Dakota Education Association, which advocates on behalf of educators at all levels. Mary McCorkle is the president of that organization. She says changes will come, but negotiations continue.

“There is collective bargaining until when laws go into effect in South Dakota," she explains. "We’ll continue to represent our members and bargain a contract in good faith with the Board of Regents.”

Proponents of the new ban say less than ten percent of eligible faculty are dues-paying members for a union that negotiates contracts for all. Opponents say because South Dakota is a right-to-work state, faculty aren’t forced to pay dues in order to benefit from union negotiations and mediation.

McCorkle says COHE will still have contacts on campuses after the new law goes into effect, but non-members may no longer have access to their representation.

“If there is not collective bargaining when the contract expires, we will be the voice for our members.”

Governor Noem supports the ban on faculty collective bargaining and is expected to sign the bill when it reaches her desk.