Leon Knight is a college teacher
Leon Knight is a college teacher, an officer of the Minnesota Democratic Party and an unabashed liberal. He is also opposed to compulsory unionism — which places him on the enemies list of the National Education Association.
In 1968-69, Knight served as president of the faculty association at North Hennepin Community College in suburban Minneapolis. He fully supports the right of everyone to join and participate in labor unions. But he draws the line at compulsory affiliation.
“The big difference,” he says, “between the faculty association I headed up and the union there now is the issue of voluntary versus compulsory.”
After the faculty association be¬came an affiliate of the militant NEA, the association backed legislation requiring compulsory union fees for public employees. Once passed, it was decided all faculty members would have to pay a fee to keep their jobs. Knight’s liberal philosophy wouldn’t allow him to go along.
“The idea of academic freedom,” he explains, “the idea of the dissident person, the idea of a person who marches to a different drum, is very precious. And yet unionism is coming in and saying I must march to that drum.”
“If they can determine,” he stresses, “not what I teach in the classroom, but whether I teach at all that is the ultimate threat to academic freedom.”
Leon Knight went to court to protect his Constitutional rights. With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Founda¬tion, he and 19 other members of the Minnesota Community College system brought suit against the NEA and its local affiliates. The suit challenges the forced representation and compulsory fee provisions of Minnesota’s Public Employment Labor Relations Act.
Leon Knight was fortunate. He found help. But how many other Leon Knights in America haven’t?
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is helping everyone it can. It is currently assisting individual workers in more than 200 cases involving academic freedom, political freedom, freedom from union violence, and the right to work for government without paying a private organization for that privilege.