It’s true, the Supreme Court Janus decision has set up a situation where employees working under an exclusive bargainer can choose to forego membership and not pay dues. Call it a non-union member Boston Tea Party, if you will.
Way back, before many current educators were even born, the teachers’ unions wanted the collective bargaining laws to be exclusive. Meaning only one bargainer could represent a unit. In exchange for this exclusivity, they had to agree to represent all employees, whether they chose to be members or not.
Those nonmembers were charged an “agency fee” to cover the costs of collective bargaining. Sounds harmless, right? Here’s my experience with that set up: Shock, surprise, disbelief. Despite the fact I was PAYING my “fair share/agency fees” the union DENIED me the right to vote on the contract I was PAYING for. I couldn’t hold office or voice concerns. But I was PAYING my fair share. Similar to “taxation without representation”.
Why would someone choose to be a nonmember? Frequently, union use of dues on politics is given as a reason. Now nonmembers don’t have to pay any fees. Is that fair?
Is it fair that the majority, if not all educators at this point, have never had the opportunity to vote on who represents them? I’d like that opportunity. No, I don’t want my colleagues to bear the brunt of my share of the cost of collective bargaining. However, as it stands right now, I cannot in good conscience give one dime to the current state and nationally affiliated exclusive bargainer. Here are some expectations I have of bargaining representation, none of which are met with the current status quo:
- Local only. There is no reason for educators to be sending dues to state and national affiliates. Only management and local employees are legally allowed to bargain; state and national associations cannot, by law, sit at the bargaining table. Why pay them?
- Dues could be significantly less if bargaining was kept local-only, and with no loss of services. Poke around your district and figure out just what the expenses and costs of collective bargaining are. You might be surprised.
- Focused on issues pertinent to the district and schooling, not politics or agendas unrelated to education.
- Stays accountable to members by providing transparent fiscal reports and meeting notes to all in the bargaining unit.
- Serves parents as the ultimate decision-maker in their child’s education. Does not usurp the parental role.
- Makes decisions that are good for the community, whether it’s what other districts are doing or not. Do what is right for the constituents you are serving.
- Fosters a congenial, respectful working relationship and doesn’t accept entitled teacher attitudes nor micromanaging administration.
- Provides personal professional liability insurance, not merely “legal services” that change at the whim of faraway union executives.
- Willing to accept there are sometimes teachers who need to be let go, post-haste.
- Rejects the idea it’s okay to pay beginning teachers less than $40,000, then extract over $900 dollars in dues from those same teachers.
Opting out is a way to show you want change.
Decertification of current representation is also a viable option for those wishing to have the opportunity to vote on a different exclusive bargainer, but more on that another time. . .