Tag Archives: AFL-CIO

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Association of American Educators, Teacher Unions

If unions do so much for their members, then why bully?

larrysand1

Cross-posted from EAGNews.

by Larry Sand from UnionWatch

LOS ANGELES – The Michigan Education Association had its apple cart turned upside down when the Wolverine State went “right-to-work” in December.

This means that, unlike California and 25 other states, a worker doesn’t have to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

My introduction to union coercion came in 2005, when, as a middle school teacher in Los Angeles, I joined the Prop. 75 campaign. That initiative would have prohibited public employee labor organizations from collecting the part of union dues which goes for politics without prior consent of the employee. Sensing a disruption in their forced dues gravy train, the California Teachers Association went into overdrive. It raised union dues on its members for a three-year period and mortgaged their offices in Sacramento, then used the millions they accumulated to scare teachers and the public – ominously warning them of imaginary horrors that would be visited on them if the proposition passed.

Teachers unions are forever telling its members how much the union does for them in the way of wages, job benefits, etc. You would think that an organization that does so much for its members wouldn’t have to resort to bullying to keep them in the fold. But the unions know that without forcing the issue, many teachers would just say, “No.” For instance, in Wisconsin, after Act 10 came into law allowing teachers to quit their union, about 30 percent have already quit with more to follow this June when their contracts expire.

Also, typically unspoken in the unions’ talking points is the fact that while union members in forced union states may make more than their counterparts in RTW states, the costs of goods and services are far lower in these states, the result being a net gain for the employee. The unions also don’t tell you that workers are flocking to RTW states, which have a lower unemployment rate than in states that are dominated by unions.

In Michigan, a skittish MEA is doing what it can to intimidate teachers. First, they are scrambling to get new contracts for teachers all over the state before March when the new RTW law takes effect. Also, MEA boss Steve Cook issued a threat that any teacher who decides to bail in March will be sued. According to a Wall Street Journal editorial,

“Members who indicate they wish to resign membership in March, or whenever, will be told they can only do so in August,” Mr. Cook writes in the three-page memo obtained by the West Michigan Policy Forum. “We will use any legal means at our disposal to collect the dues owed under signed membership forms from any members who withhold dues prior to terminating their membership in August for the following fiscal year.”

Got that, comrade?

If nothing else, recent events have shown without a shred of doubt, the union is about maintaining its power and collecting every last penny they claim is owed to them. All the lofty talk about the children is just so much camouflage for their real agenda – accumulating money and power.

Another expression bandied about by the unions is the term “free rider.” They try to gain sympathy by suggesting that those in RTW states who don’t voluntarily join are getting something valuable for free. This specious argument really needs to be countered. Many teachers would happily say, “I don’t want any part of the union and the perks it may get me. I think I have a valuable service to offer and want to negotiate my own contract.” Seems reasonable, right? Well, that decision is not up to the teacher. As Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk points out,

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. Under the Act, unions can also negotiate “members-only” contracts that only cover dues-paying members. They do not have to represent other employees.

Teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci adds,

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.

So those deemed free riders by the unions are really forced riders.

Having seen the union’s lies and intimidating ways up close and personal, I am hardly surprised at MEA’s hardball tactics. But it seems that the voters in states like Michigan and Wisconsin have awakened, perhaps signaling that worker freedom just may be the wave of the future.

Larry Sand, a retired teacher who taught in Los Angeles and NYC public schools for 28 years, is the president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. This post originally appeared as a guest column in the Orange County Register and is republished here with permission from the author.

Leave a comment

Filed under Teacher Unions

Close Encounters of the Union Kind

We received this from one of our members, he would prefer to keep his identity and school district confidential, so we are going to post it for him.

Excitement always surrounds new beginnings. For the NEA, new teachers and the beginning of the school year is probably about as exciting as it comes. After all, the beginning of the school year presents fresh meat for the union pack.

I recently started at a fairly large school district in a middle sized city in the Midwest. I was certainly excited for the beginning of the year meetings, but I can’t say I was that excited about my inevitable encounter with the National Education Association. I figured why not turn this into a positive and go in as an undercover reporter, so to speak.

The NEA offered new teachers a breakfast and a lunch all on the same day. I decided that I would attend both of them, the ability to act like a liberal doesn’t present itself very often. Free food and the chance to waste NEA resources, what self-respecting conservative would turn that down?

For breakfast I had the option of some granola bars, juice, water, a fruit, and the ever important NEA membership form! You have to love the NEAs brutal honesty, it’s not about education, it’s about money. From a small flyer attached to the NEA membership form:

Research shows that over a ten-year period, school districts in [my state] with an NEA majority have experienced salary increases more than 30% higher than districts with an [other state teacher organization] majority. The higher the percentage of NEA members in a district, the higher the bargaining power for not only salary increases, but for benefits and working conditions as well.

Can we think about this a second? America is broke, but the NEA wants me to sign up so they can get me some more cash! Thanks for the breakfast (which really wasn’t much of a breakfast), but no thanks. The most irritating part of this form shoved in my face in the morning is they didn’t even tell me the cost of the membership. I guess it’s just assumed you don’t care and are going to join anyway. Hey, they were offering a free t-shirt on top of the promise of a higher salary down the road. What a deal!

I escaped the first meeting with no confrontation and headed off to my morning sessions. Lunch arrived, and it was time to head back into the lion’s den (snake pit?). While waiting in line for my sandwich, chips, and water I was given another folder with more exciting NEA information. It was apparent that time was waning for the NEA, and potential new members were escaping their grasp. Inside of this folder was another membership form and a little bright yellow piece of paper stapled to it.

Special New Member Incentive

Any new member who joins NEA between August 8 and August 12, 2011 will receive a crisp, new (or old, wrinkled) $10 bill!

Well, at least they have a sense of humor as they bribe you with money. It got better though, as I was eating my lunch our district’s NEA president marched in and told us that anybody that joined would be entered in a chance to win $100. At this point I was beginning to wonder if I could join, get the $10, have a shot at the $100, and then dump the membership in a couple days. As tempting as it was, I talked myself out of that. I did finally find out the monthly cost. I finished my lunch and headed on out. I actually had to come back down to the NEA area because there was some confusion on our meeting schedule. As was attempting to leave an NEA representative made some comment about filling out our forms. I can’t specifically remember what he said, but it was arrogant and presumptuous. At this point a somewhat heated discussion began.

Now the guy I was speaking to appeared to be a nice person, he seemed genuine anyway. Overall the conversation was semi-professional. As you would expect any NEA member to do he brought up the topic of Governor Scott Walker. I was a little annoyed with him and decided to tell him that I had a lot of respect for Governor Walker. He decided to share with me that he thought Governor Walker was “a douche bag.” Yeah, not kidding. Of course he attempted to bring up the Koch brothers, the left’s boogie men. I changed the topic quickly.

The thing that floored me as I continued to talk to him was just how little he knew about his own organization. I told him I was frustrated with the NEAs partnership with the AFL-CIO. He told me I had my facts wrong. I guess he ought to check their own website: NEA pledges to work with new AFL-CIO president. He told me that he was upset with WADC’s involvement in education. That’s been the result of decades of NEAs influence on education. He shared with me that he feels the country needs more personal responsibility. I mean, really, the NEA is an organization that supports the political left. I know of no other group in American society that celebrates and rewards personal irresponsibility more than individuals of this political perspective. After an hour I had about enough of Mr. NEA and decided to head on about my day. We shook hands, wished each other the best, and agreed to disagree.

At the end of the day I can honestly say my opinion has not changed of the NEA. I still think they are one of the biggest problems we have in education. This is why I am a member of the Association of American Educators.

Oh, one other beautiful piece of this story. I am working with another new teacher who is originally from Czechoslovakia. We are working in the same building so we were hanging out together. She was with me most of the day and saw the beginning of the discussion with the NEA representative. The next day we were talking and she said, “You know what that reminded me of? Communism.” Unprompted, unscripted, brutal honesty.

1 Comment

Filed under NEA, Speaking Out, Teacher Unions

It’s Time for Conservatives to Stand Against the NEA

We here at Conservative Teachers of America stand firmly on two issues: the Federal Department of Education is a waste of money and should be eliminated and teacher unions are harmful to the educational process in American schools. Recent events regarding the behavior of the National Education Association should cause all educators and Americans to take a pause and ask themselves: What good does the NEA even provide to education?

A recent post on the Association of American Educators blog shows just how confused the NEA has become; Stranger Than Fiction: NEA Partners With WWE. No, we’re not making that up, the National Education Association has partnered with World Wrestling Entertainment. Now, here’s where things get even stranger. The reason for the partnership, is to “ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.” The WWE, the same organization that on a regular basis portrays violence, bullying, and the disrespect and belittling of women, is going to help the NEA in an anti-bullying campaign. What planet are these people from?

Rosalind Wiseman, author of the book Queen Bees, and Wannabes (highly recommend this book for any secondary educator) put together a piece on her website complete with videos that demonstrates just why this is so ludicrous. If you want to have your stomach turn, watch the video of Vince McMahon and the woman Trish. McMahon forces her to strip down to her underwear in front of a screaming crowd, tells her to get down on all fours and bark like a dog, and treats her as if she is sub-human. Ah yes, if you want to promote good values this is the organization you partner with, way to go NEA!

As if this partnership wasn’t the latest in insanity from the NEA, they decided to continue and endorse President Barack Obama 16 months before the election and months before the Republican party has even chosen a candidate. Now, we’re not fooling ourselves here, we don’t expect the NEA to endorse a conservative candidate, but it’s just amazing that they would take this step so early in the process. They have endorsed the same President that chose Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Duncan is quite possibly the most unqualified individual to have ever held this post, he has no degree in education, and never was an educator or principal a day in his life. The strange thing is that the NEA is on record as criticizing Duncan.

There is obviously something driving this behavior. We suspect it has something to do with the fact that the NEA is losing money and members at an alarming rate.

The recent NEA convention in which they endorsed President Obama was held over Independence Day weekend in Chicago. Now, call us crazy, but isn’t it odd that the NEA would have their convention on this weekend? Of course, when you consider that many devout union members are usually devout progressives politically, this shouldn’t really surprise you too much. Independence Day for them is, well, just another day, not too much different than last Wednesday or the Monday before that.

The AAE reports that the convention was a major disappointment. Only 7500 delegates were in attendance and this was the lowest amount since 1998. We’re a bit surprised at this, especially considering they had Vice-President and Gaffe King Joe Biden speak to them. Financially things are not much better, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle reported that the NEA faces a $14 million dollar shortfall and has lost 39,000 active members since 2010. (We’re going to offer a free tip to the NEA here; you’re doing something wrong when you lose money and members in such large quantities.) The NEA has decided to try and alleviate the problem and is raising the PAC portion of member dues by $10.

It’s exciting to see so many union members beginning to see the light and leave the NEA. This is a prime opportunity, and conservatives around the country need to speak out louder and larger against this organization. Do you know a teacher in your life that is an NEA member? Question them with boldness. Do they really want their money to be going to the NEA? If they don’t, consider providing them with an option.

We here at CTA are huge fans of the Association of American Educators. The AAE is a non-union teacher advocacy organization that truly helps focus on what’s important in our profession, the child! Membership in the AAE is only $15 per month and benefits include $2,000,000 in liability insurance, legal protection and employment rights coverage. The real beauty of the AAE is the liability insurance, it’s twice the NEA’s coverage, with none of the politics.

Some interesting facts about the NEA that are worth mentioning:

Not all NEA members are liberal, a survey conducted in 2005 showed 50% of members were conservative or tended conservative. This is why it’s so important for conservatives to begin to speak out against the NEA. The NEA promotes an agenda that is in contrast to what so many conservatives stand for. This is a great way to cause further financial damage to the NEA, and to marginalize their impact on our profession.

The NEA-PAC donates a disproportionate amount of money to Democrat candidates. In the 2008 election NEA-PAC gave Democratic candidates 13 times the amount of money it gave Republicans (93% Democrat/7% Republican).

The NEA has a Labor Solidarity Partnership with the AFL-CIO. The same AFL-CIO whose President is Richard Trumka. For an interesting read on Mr. Trumka, please check out the Trumka fact sheet: An Ugly History of Union Violence and Corruption.

Updated 7/13/11: Just saw this on Big Government, the NEA is now using students to raise PAC money. Sad. National Education Association Thanks Students for Raising PAC Funds

2 Comments

Filed under NEA, Teacher Unions