Teachers Pitched to Opt Out of Unions During ‘Employee Freedom’ Week

Many unions across the nation allow members, including teachers, to opt out during the month of August.

August 10-16 is National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW). For this event, 79 groups in 44 states will come together to publicize information pertaining to employee freedom in leaving unions through events, advertising and outreach activities.

The coalition, including groups such as the Heritage Foundation and the Workforce Fairness Initiative, depends on its members to spread their message.

"We've helped 1,450 teachers leave their union in the last two years," said executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute Victor Joecks, who said this reduced the amount of union dues collected by more than $1.1 million a year.

About 4 million union members nationwide, or 28%, are looking to opt-out according to a recently released Google Consumer Survey poll.

Members report many reasons for wanting to leave. Some do not like paying the fees, which can be upwards of $1,000 each year. Others do not appreciate having their fees go toward political issues, many of which are not agreed upon by all members.

Twenty-four US states have right-to-work laws, which allow employees to opt-out without paying dues to a union they do not belong to.

A recent poll conducted by the NEFW found that 83% of those polled believe union members should "have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union."

For the other 26 states, union members receive a rebate for the amount of their dues that would go toward political spending when they choose to opt-out, reports Victor Joecks for The Washington Examiner.

However, very few are aware that they have the ability to leave their union without penalty. Union bosses do not make it public knowledge, and rarely publicize the few nationally accepted opt-out times per year.

Even though teachers can join a union at any time of year, many are not allowed to leave any other time but the month of August. Others only have a two-week opportunity to do so.

Mr. Joecks said the freedom week campaign is simply providing information about choice. "Do I think unions have pushed destructive messages and destructive policies? Absolutely," he said, adding that the campaign week was moved to August this year because that's when unions in many states allow members to opt out.

In California, Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other teachers have filed a lawsuit, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, stating that having to join a union is unconstitutional, violating freedom of speech and association. The lawsuit is currently steps away from reaching the US Supreme Court.

While the percentage of union members have steadily dropped in the US, they are currently holding at 11.3% of US workforce employees.

08 15, 2014
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