A new campaign from the North Carolina Civitas Institute is urging teachers to opt out of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
"They're not really an advocate for education. They're an advocate for people who pay dues to them," said Francis De Luca, NC Civitas President.
The website NCTeacherFreedom accompanies a series of billboards as part of the campaign, asking teachers "Want a $450 raise?" The advertisements, which will also include ads and postcards, are meant to remind area teachers of their choices concerning union membership.
"When I look at some of the memberships I have, I'm not always aware of the fine print," Civitas spokesman Jim Tynen said.
According to state law, North Carolina offers its teachers and other staff members of public and charter schools professional liability insurance up to $1 million at no cost to the employees.
"A lot of the reasons teachers and other employees join the NCAE is no longer valid," said De Luca. "A lot of them joined to get the liability insurance for their job protection. Well, now the state offers that."
On its website, the NC Civitas Institute claims the NCAE has failed teachers, reporting that most of the funding the group receives is used for political purposes that its members do not necessarily agree with, instead of advocating for its members as it should.
The NCAE began by publicly supporting Democratic Senator Kay Hagan this spring as well as showing encouragement at Moral Monday demonstrations against state GOP policies. The group has recently began to build relationships with Republican legislators.
Also mentioned are detailed instructions telling members how to opt-out of the union and offers several alternative teacher associations the employees may join, including links to each groups' websites.
The website also tells readers that NCAE executives make four times the salary of an average teacher, who currently makes $45,938.
The group is urging teachers to opt out of the program before September 30, when payrolls will be finalized.
The NC Civitas Institute was created and financially backed by the John W. Pope foundation, the family foundation of state budget director Art Pope.
The campaign comes as part of National Employee Freedom Week (August 10-16), a national campaign sponsored by such groups as the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Limited Government, it was instituted with the goal of educating employees about their rights pertaining to union membership. It states on the website that it is dedicated to instituting conservative policies.
Once prevalent as the reigning force in most professions, unions across the US are down to 11.3% enrollment. The NCAE was founded in 1970 and currently has close to 60,000 members. Its roots trace back as far as 1857.