OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma is one day away from the Republican run-off election for State Superintendent.

On Friday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order stating more oversight into payroll deductions as it relates to teachers unions, and it reminded teachers of their First Amendment right to say “no” to union membership.

Ryan Walters, current Education Secretary and candidate for State Superintendent, took to Twitter and said teacher unions were “mandatory enslavement.”

“Our teachers union has put teachers into this automatic renewal, where teachers have gone years and said, ‘I actually didn’t know I’d signed up for it,'” said Walters, in an interview with KFOR on Monday.

April Grace is going against Walters in Tuesday’s run-off.

She is Superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools, and said Walters does not know how membership works.

“Members do have to fill out forms every year to join,” said Grace. “These are opt-in, not opt-out.”

Grace has been an educator for over 30 years. She said the language used by Walters to describe association membership is upsetting.

“I was extremely disappointed that we would have any state official use that term and that rhetoric in any way regarding an association or educators or anyone in our state,” said Grace.

Grace and many other members of the public school community found the executive order redundant.

In 2001, voters passed a law granting Oklahoma a “right to work” state.

By law, mandatory dues to unions are not allowed.

Katherine Bishop, Oklahoma Education Association President, responded to the Executive Order on Friday.

“We have always been an opt-in organization since our first meeting in 1889. The Executive Order filed on Aug. 19, 2022, is a baseless attack on the voices of educators ahead of an important election,” said Bishop.

The Executive Order said the state needs to “ensure that payroll deductions meet the requirements of state.”

KFOR asked the Governor’s Office about a potential list of formal complaints regarding unlawful payroll deductions.

The Governor’s Office did not answer the questions, but did send the following statement:

“The purpose of Governor Stitt’s EO is to ensure teachers are fully informed they have a First Amendment right to NOT become a member of the union. It calls for OSDE to have clear, transparent communication explaining that to every teacher in the state every single year. The Janus case cited in the EO further explains that a waiver of teacher’s First Amendment right “cannot be presumed” and there must be clear and compelling evidence that each teacher has waived their 1A right and wants to opt-into the union.

Simply put: Governor Stitt wants every teacher in the state to fully understand their First Amendment rights. Why would any person or organization have a problem with that?”

Kate Vesper, Press Secretary for the Governor.