Cindy Omlin: Unions Should Earn Members

CEAFU Key Leader Cindy Omlin shares her thoughts on compulsory unionism.   Her words are especially relevant as the Friedrichs case before the Supreme Court and teachers prepare to return to school next month.

Thousands of Washington educators who don’t want union representation and don’t want to pay union dues are forced to do so because of state laws made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1977 Abood decision. The court signaled this week that it may be prepared to strike down this anti-teacher choice practice once and for all.

Forced unionism is serious business for the unions. These unjust practices have led to exorbitant fees, plundering educators’ paychecks for political cash and abuse of teachers who don’t fall in line. In 2010, teachers unions collected $2 billion in union dues. $1.3 billion of those dues came from states with compulsory unionism.

When I worked for Spokane Public Schools, my union leader admitted that only 20-30 percent of my dues were spent on representation. Washington teacher union dues are double what they run in Idaho, a right-to-work state where teachers pay $600 instead of $1,200 for annual dues.

Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE), a union alternative for professionalism and protection, believes that teachers should be able to decide whether union membership is in their best interest or not. Unions, like other private organizations, should have to earn their members.

Cindy Omlin