Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

For Union Leaders, Their Members’ Ignorance is Bliss

The Clark County Education Association (CCEA) in Nevada uses the tagline “Pride. Power. Participation.” on its home page. Perhaps a better slogan would be “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

That is the message the union is sending its members this week in the wake of the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) informing members of the teachers union, via e-mail, that they don’t have to join. NPRI explained that because Nevada is a right-to-work state, teachers are not forced to join the union and may opt-out in a small window—from July 1 to July 15, when “school-related activities are the furthest things from their minds.”

Teachers union bosses are furious that someone dared to remind their membership of their rights. The CCEA executive director complained that NPRI doesn’t want teachers to be represented. ‪The Nevada State Education Association called the NPRI e-mail “union busting at its finest.”

But what is the harm of letting teachers know about their rights? Isn’t that what union bosses claim they encourage?

We already know that unions are selective in the rights that they want their members to enjoy—like voting.

Other interests might also be in play. NPRI says that 1,500 teachers have left the union since 2007. That adds up to quite a bit of cash: union dues are $768 a year.

And what exactly have unionized teachers received in exchange for their dues? The school district is trying to bring back the 1,000+ teachers that had to be laid off due to budget shortfalls, but union leaders didn’t respond to the district’s request to schedule negotiations. The district was forced to declare an impasse.

While members may be out of work, union bosses ought to have no complaints. The latest IRS stats show that of the union’s $4.1 million budget, over one-third went to paying nine union employees.

Victor Joecks of NPRI said that although they received negative responses to their e-mails, they also received thanks from other teachers who were unaware of the opt-out process. “This is union busting at its finest?” Joecks asked.”If you really care about teachers, why don’t you let them know what their choices are?”

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeachers Unions