The Teachers’ Lounge

6 Myths Teachers’ Unions Don’t Want You to Question

6 Myths Teachers’ Unions Don’t Want You to Question

As anyone who’s been a public school teacher can tell you, plenty of false messages circulate about union membership: whether it’s required, why it exists, and whom it benefits (or harms). On most issues, there are two stories: the one the PSEA or AFT-PA want you to believe, and the truth.

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#RedforEd teacher strikes lack real dissent

#RedforEd teacher strikes lack real dissent

Not all teachers want to strike to resolve problems, and not all agree that a lack of funding–the unions’ main talking point–is the worst problem assailing American public schools. The type of advocacy education needs isn’t the red-shirted picketing sort, it’s the reasonable kind that deepens teacher credibility.

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Myth #5: Your local union uses your dues to negotiate your pay

Myth #5: Your local union uses your dues to negotiate your pay

When you look closely at the breakdown of a teacher’s dues, very little stays local. In other words, teachers trust their local union the most but their money is funding a distant, inefficient, bureaucracy that barely represents them. When you look closely at the breakdown of a teacher’s dues, very little stays local. In other words, teachers trust their local union the most but their money is funding a distant, inefficient, bureaucracy that barely represents them. Educators have other options, though.

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Myth #4: Workers who don’t pay the union are “free riders”

Myth #4: Workers who don’t pay the union are “free riders”

Unions have long deflected with slurs like “free rider” and “scab” when held accountable for their actions. But these insults don’t change the facts. Teachers who don’t join the union, and now don’t pay fair share fees, are not “free riders.” They’ve always been forced riders.

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Myth #2: Dues aren’t used for politics

Myth #2: Dues aren’t used for politics

Like a zombie, this myth just doesn’t die. But member dues can be spent on a variety of “soft” political activities, such as get-out-the-vote drives, election mailers, lobbying of legislators, and public marketing campaigns. In 2017-18, the PSEA spent $2.9 million of teachers’ union dues on “political activities and lobbying.”

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Myth #1—Nobody can force you to join a union

Myth #1—Nobody can force you to join a union

Free to Teach wants you to know what’s up. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be rolling out a blog series called,  “6 Myths Teachers’ Unions Don’t Want You to Question.” Today we will tackle Myth #1—Nobody can force you to join a union. While technically true, the statement hides a world of coercion employees feel regarding union membership.

It’s true that after the Janus v. AFSCME decision, no teacher or public education worker can be forced to pay fair share fees. However, unionization is still coercive in a number of ways. For example, members who are not happy with their union and want to resign are often trapped for years because of narrow resignation windows, officially known and legally sanctioned in state law as “maintenance of membership.”

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Turns out, Bambi flees fire when you don’t hold him down

Turns out, Bambi flees fire when you don’t hold him down

Following the Supreme Court’s Janus decision striking down fair share fees, the National Education Association has lost 87,000 fee payers. It has also lost some 17,000 members. This is turning into a real problem for the NEA–teachers are leaving the union like animals fleeing a brush fire.

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