Category Archives: Association of American Educators

Workers of the World, Your Rights!

By Larry Sand (follow on Twitter)
UnionWatch

LOS ANGELES – Unknown to many employees throughout the country – especially in non-right-to-work states – they have a right to not belong to a union.

This year, June 23rd – 29th is being dedicated to informing America’s wage earners of their union membership options. This project, National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), is spearheaded by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and the Association of American Educators (AAE).

The idea for this undertaking came about in the summer of 2012 when NPRI, a non-partisan think tank based in Las Vegas, launched a small-scale campaign to let local teachers know that they could opt out of their union, the Clark County Education Association, by submitting written notice from July 1st to July 15th.

The reaction was stunning. Teachers thanked NPRI for sharing that information. Hundreds of teachers wanted to leave CCEA, each for their own unique reasons, but didn’t know it was possible or forgot because of the narrow and inconvenient drop window. Empowered by the information NPRI shared, over 400 teachers opted out by submitting written notice and over 400 more left CCEA and weren’t replaced by a union member.

The U.S. is comprised of 24 “right-to-work” states which grant workers a choice whether or not to belong to a union. In the other 26 and Washington, D.C., they don’t have to belong but must still pay the portion of union dues that goes toward collective bargaining and other non-political union-related activities. The dissenters who select this “agency fee” option typically do so because they don’t like that about one-third of their dues goes for political spending. Even though over 40 percent of union households vote Republican, over 90 percent of union largess goes to Democrats and liberal causes. (There is an exemption for religious objectors; if an employee is successful in attaining that status, they don’t have to pay any money to the union, but must donate a full dues share to an approved charity.)

As president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, I am well aware of teachers’ frustrations. We have been providing information to educators about their rights since 2006, and thousands have exercised their right to resign from their teachers union in the Golden State. It is important to note that different unions in different states have specific opt-out periods during which a worker can exercise their right to leave. In many states, one not only has to resign, but also must ask for a rebate of the political portion of their dues every year during a specified – and frequently very narrow – window of time.

To be clear, NEFW is not about denying anyone the right to belong to a union, but rather about letting employees know their options and providing them with facts that they can use to make an informed decision. Unions are threatened when workers choose to opt out, and typically accuse dissidents of being “free riders” or freeloaders. But, if employees don’t want the services that the union has to offer, they have no choice but to accept them because the union demands exclusivity. As I wrote recently, quoting Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk,

Unions object that right-to-work is actually “right-to-freeload.” The AFL-CIO argues “unions are forced by law to protect all workers, even those who don’t contribute financially toward the expenses incurred by providing those protections.” They contend they should not have to represent workers who do not pay their “fair share.”

It is a compelling argument, but untrue. The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate unions exclusively represent all employees, but permits them to electively do so. (Emphasis added.) Under the Act, unions can also negotiate “members-only” contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on this point. As Justice William Brennan wrote in Retail Clerks v. Lion Dry Goods, the Act’s coverage “is not limited to labor organizations which are entitled to recognition as exclusive bargaining agents of employees … ‘Members only’ contracts have long been recognized.”

As Sherk says, while unions don’t have to represent all employees, they do so voluntarily to eliminate any competition. So instead of “free rider,” a better term would be “forced rider.” Teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci explains,

The very first thing any new union wants is exclusivity. No other unions are allowed to negotiate on behalf of people in the bargaining unit. Unit members cannot hire their own agent, nor can they represent themselves. Making people pay for services they neither asked for nor want is a “privilege” we reserve for government, not for private organizations. Unions are freeloading on those additional dues.

One final thought: If unions are so beneficial for workers – as they keep telling us – why must they force people to pay for their service?

I never have received a response to that question. Maybe because there is no good answer. Something for all of us to ponder during National Employee Freedom Week.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network– a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Association of American Educators, Teacher Unions

Wisconsin Teachers Choose to Be Non-Union

Huh, look at that, we are not all union-loving zombies. Some of us like professional organizations that treat us as…wait for it….professionals! Some of us like CHOICE! Have you thought about joining the Association of American Educators? If not, you really should. Below is the newest promotional video from the AAE. Check it out!

1 Comment

Filed under Association of American Educators, Videos

Association of American Educators Release 2013 Member Survey

Cross-posted from the AAE website.

Today the 2013 annual membership survey was released by the Association of American Educators. The survey was conducted this fall, polling AAE members from all 50 states on issues relating to education and labor reform.

Survey results show progressive stances toward education and labor reform, particularly with regard to raising expectations, accountability, school choice, technology, Common Core State Standards, and school budgets and pensions. While educators have approached these new ideas with caution, overall, AAE member are growing in their support of common sense reform, flexibility and options.

As a member-driven organization, AAE brings an authentic teacher voice to the education reform dialogue, rendering valuable input into creating a world class education system from well-informed teachers nationwide. The opinions expressed in this survey are those of real teachers, not bureaucrats or union leaders with partisan political agendas.

As education leaders advocate for raising the bar for incoming educators, AAE members are also calling for a well-prepared workforce:

• 62% of survey respondents agree with the idea that, just as lawyers must pass state bar exams to practice law, teachers should pass a test that proves their ability to be effective.

Regarding class size:

• Further, 59% percent of AAE members would support a 1-2 student increase in grades 4-12 class size to make more money available for teacher pay, more technology in the classroom, and other educational programs.

While the union-backed establishment sees school choice as detrimental to the teaching profession, AAE member teachers support certain laws that advance school choice and promote options for all stakeholders:

• 69% percent of survey respondents support the Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) that awards need-based annual scholarships to eligible District children to attend a participating private/ parochial D.C. elementary, middle, or high school of their parent’s choice.

• 68% of teachers agree with an Indiana law that allows any taxpayer who has a child already enrolled in a private/ parochial school or who is home-schooled to claim up to a $1,000 tax deduction per child for approved educational expenses including school tuition, textbooks, fees, software, tutoring, and supplies.

• 74% of AAE members support Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which enable parents of special needs children to leave their assigned public schools, taking 90% of the state dollars with them. That money, deposited into ESAs, can then be used to access a multitude of education options that better met their children’s needs.

As new technologies make it possible for students to learn at their own pace, states across the country are implementing polices that offer and encourage online learning. While defenders of the status-quo see virtual options as a threat, AAE members embrace new technologies as a means to better prepare students for the job market of the 21st century:

• 64 % of AAE member teachers support a Florida law that guarantees access to online course work.

• 67% of survey respondents agree with a Virginia law that requires students to take at least one online course to graduate.

AAE members also recognize the need for transparency and accountability in funding:

• 95% of survey respondents believe that school budgets should be shared with the public to ensure state/federal monies are being allocated effectively.

• 87 % of teachers believe that school districts should be required to provide an annual fiscal report to the public and that district negotiations should be conducted in open public meetings

One of the most controversial topics in education is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. Overall, while the jury is still out on the implementation process and its effect on the flexibility of curriculum, AAE members appear to be moving in the direction of support for consistent standards:

• 36% of respondents believe the CCSS will make the U.S. more competitive on a global scale. 53% of member teachers believed they would have no effect, and 11 % assert that CCSS will have an adverse effect on global competitiveness.

• However, 64 % of survey respondents believe that CCSS will provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and between states.

• 48% of teachers believes CCSS implementation is running smoothly, while 41 % of teachers are neutral, and 11% believe implementation in their state is going poorly.

The long term sustainability of educator pensions have been hot topics as states and local districts feel the effects of the recession on education budgets. In order to insure that educators are compensated fairly and pensions are fully funded, educators are embracing sustainable models:

• 63% of those surveyed would prefer to negotiate their own contract so that they can negotiate a salary and benefits package that best suits their lifestyle.

• 87% would support a future defined-contribution retirement plan for new newly hired teachers. This system would function like the 401k-style plans typical for the private sector.

• 89 % support an a-la-carte benefits plan where prospective hires could pick and choose salaries and benefits based personal needs.

Click here for the complete results of the survey.

1 Comment

Filed under Association of American Educators