Turn off todaya national campaign to encourage teachers and other civil servants to leave their unions, strengthens its presence in the First State.
So far, 69 Delawares — mostly teachers — have left their unions through the program, said Hunter Tower, director of the Freedom Foundation Pennsylvania.
The Freedom Foundation The stated mission is to defeat “the entrenched power of leftist government union bosses who represent an ongoing lobby for bigger government, higher taxes and radical social agendas”.
The group launched the Opt Out campaign in July 2021.
Tower said the program is designed to educate public sector workers about their rights and options.
“Many teachers don’t even realize there is an option to not be unionized,” he said.
Teachers who left their union say they were surprised at how much they were paying to belong, they didn’t like their unions backing vaccination mandates and they don’t appreciate being told who to vote for.
In Delaware, teachers who do not belong to a union can join a national group such as the Association of American EducatorsChristian Educators Association International or American Teachers Alliance.
Members of these associations cannot vote on teacher contracts, and that should be a sticking point, said Shelley Meadowcroft, director of public relations for the Delaware State Education AssociationDelaware Teachers Union.
“If they want a say in their pay, benefits and contract, then join the union and be part of it,” Meadowcroft said. “Make your voice heard and your problems heard. Our locals all have very different issues depending on where they are in the state and their district policies. It’s really run from the classroom up.
Who left the union?
In the first year of the Opt Out campaign, 125,670 workers across the country left their union, Tower said.
With annual union dues averaging about $1,000, the foundation claims to have saved workers $241,692,147.
More than 23,000 workers have left unions in California, Oregon and Washington.
Unions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Connecticut each had more than 1,000 employees leave the union via Opt Out Today.
At some point, ggovernment workers could be fired for refusing to pay their dues to belong to a union.
In 2018, however, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Janus vs. AFSCME, 585 US that public sector employees are no longer required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Tower could not provide examples of Delawares who had left the DSEA, but Karin Majewski, a teacher in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, quit her union.
She said she began to question her membership after the union announced it supported a vaccination mandate.
At the same time, she said, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association, “was trying to get critical race theory into every school in the country and they were going to oppose anyone who disagreed and wanted to go against it.
There is no place for politics in education, she says.
She believed the union was wrong to expect her to pay $160 a month to support political activities, which typically lean to the left.
Seventy percent of American teachers are unionized, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Majewski said Opt Out Today isn’t about trashing unions or pressuring people to leave, it’s about telling teachers what options they have.
She recently joined the Keystone Teachers Association, a Pennsylvania alternative to a teachers’ union. It costs about $400 per year.
Her local union wasn’t happy, but her district and fellow teachers were supportive, she said. Many of his colleagues have asked him for more information on trade union alternatives.
“At our teacher roundtables, where we’ll go to an offsite location and invite teachers from a certain school district to come, we encourage them to bring their pay stubs,” Towers said. “They’re always surprised at what comes out of their paycheck.”
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Organizations like the Keystone Teachers Association provide legal representation and financial defense for teachers.
“The only thing I can’t do now that I’m not a paying member is vote on my contract,” she said.
Unions are run by their members, Meadowcroft said. The members vote and establish the guiding principles and the legislative program of the union.
It is illegal for unions to use dues money for political campaigns.
“We have a PAC that members voluntarily donate to,” Meadowcroft said. “They can choose to donate money to our political action committee, but we can’t use those dollars to donate to campaigns. It must be completely separate. I find it difficult for a state union to be able to do that if it’s not PAC money.
The Delaware State Education Association has legally endorsed political candidates, she said.
“DSEA endorses legislators and candidates based on their positions on education, and we support candidates and legislators who support public education,” she said. “We can let our members know who is DSEA approved. It is in the law. »
In Pennsylvania, the pressure to vote along union lines was enough to cause Carolyn Powers to quit her union.
“I started wanting to get out during COVID when a lot of things were exposed and I would be disturbed by the political affiliations that were being pushed into us,” said Powers, who has been teaching in Bucks County since 1990.
His local union sent him flyers and emails telling him who to vote for.
“I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, I just don’t think anyone should tell anybody else who to vote for,” she said. “As a teacher, my goal is to teach children how to think, not what to think. For me, the union was telling me who to vote for, so they were telling me what to think, and that was not in line with my values and my convictions.
Powers had paid more than $1,000 a year to belong to his union before becoming an association.
She still has a pension plan, legal security, pay raises and the other benefits she enjoyed in the union, she said.
Powers resigned by entering a small amount of information on the Freedom Foundation’s website and sending a letter to his union.
She believes in informing other teachers of their options.
“I would tell interested teachers what my experience has been and how most people are afraid of losing their pensions, which won’t happen,” she said.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a BA in Journalism and a BA in Political Science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before to join Delaware LIVE News.