Larry Sand once again makes the call for teachers in California (and all other states) to exercise their Janus rights and stop paying for political views they do not agree with on the californiapolicyenter.org.
A few years back I was on a panel with then California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel, who mentioned during his talk that about 35 percent of his union’s membership was Republican which is roughly the way the rest of the state lines up politically. That means there are about 100,000 right-of-center teachers in the Golden State.
It’s no secret that teachers unions are big political spenders, and in California, no special interest shells out more money than CTA. When asked recently about how CTA chooses its recipients, its leader Eric Heins said, “We decide our spending based on a democratic process with our members.”
CTA endorsed 35 state legislators in the June 6th primary – all Democrats.
CTA’s national partner, the National Education Association, is no less one-sided in its spending. Though its membership is politically mixed, (a 2005 NEA survey, consistent with previous results, found that members “are actually slightly more conservative (50%) than liberal (43%) in political philosophy.”) Regardless, NEA’s political spending goes more than 90 percent in a leftward direction. The union gives money to the Democracy Alliance, Progress Now, Progressive Inc., Media Matters, et al, which are all far left outfits.
All this leads to Janus v AFSCME, the lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. becoming a right-to-work country. And it puts conservative and libertarian teachers in California and 21 other states in a powerful position. Prior to the ruling, teachers who didn’t like their unions’ political spending could opt out of paying the political portion of their union dues – usually about 35 percent of the total. A teacher would have to resign from the union, but still have to pay an “agency fee” of about $700 to their local union, and its state and national affiliates (usually CTA/NEA). But now no teacher has to pay a penny to a union as a condition of employment.
Conservative and libertarian teachers should start playing hardball and demand that the union change its political spending habits before they agree to join or maintain their membership.
One hundred thousand educators have a lot of power. Those teachers have been paying over $100 million a year in dues – every year – to the teachers union. It’s about time they begin to make some demands. “No taxation without representation” accomplished quite a bit politically about 250 years ago. It can be quite effective once again.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.