Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forced unionization's other cost

The Lexington Herald-Leader (days after legislators in Wisconsin passed that controversial legislation) has an interesting piece on the toll unions take on the professionalism of teachers, the paychecks of teachers and the resentment the public in Kentucky might someday feel toward teachers and their unions. The authors, Gary Beckner and Paula Jackson-Eaglin, represent the Association of American Educators:

The proposed legislation by the Wisconsin governor reduces the superpower status of the teachers unions by ending forced unionism — the practice in which one is required to pay the union as a condition of employment.

On the contrary, what could be more democratic than allowing teachers to make the choice for themselves whether the union meets their needs?

In no way does the legislation eliminate the union; rather, it reins in its ability to forcibly collect dues from teachers. The practice of allowing teachers to think for themselves effectively cuts off millions to union political action accounts.

With its monopoly being threatened, the union is pulling out all the stops to disable this legislation, regardless of the effect on the professionalism of teachers, children in the classroom or taxpaying citizens.

The unions have enabled AWOL legislators in Wisconsin with their rhetoric, fueled never-ending protests, trashed state capitols and left their posts in the classroom for days — all in an effort to halt this legislation. Their leaders are clearly more concerned with strikes and sick-outs than the students of Wisconsin.

For years, local educators have joined teachers unions in thinking their money was going to advance their profession. Unfortunately, the National Education Association (NEA) and their local counterpart, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), have grown into behemoth special-interest groups that clearly do not use their member dues exclusively for the advancement of the teaching profession.

Luckily for Kentucky teachers, they can and should make informed choices on where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Many local union teachers believe that because they aren't forced to pay union dues, this behavior does not affect their membership in the KEA.
I have no problem with collective bargaining for workers in general. People have a constitutional right to organize. It's right there in the First Amendment. My problem with unions is that, at least in the public sector, people who pay for the government services do not have the ability to opt out of both consuming and paying for the unionized workers' services. The only truly essential check on the power of unions is the ability for customers to look elsewhere for goods and services.

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