This, of course, is complete and total crap.
There's so much more to democracy than just voting--after all, Saddam Hussein got "reelected" plenty of times. Hiding behind a façade of a fair election is the most evil of lies and the most cynical of acts.
Since the left is so fond of international governmental organizations (but not multinational corporations, go figure), I thought it might be fun to explore the democratic requirements of one of the treaties we've signed. Let's see what the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States has to say on the topic.
At the beginning of the charter is a large list of therefores, whereases, and recognizing-thats. This one stood out to me:
RECOGNIZING that the right of workers to associate themselves freely for the defense and promotion of their interests is fundamental to the fulfillment of democratic ideals;
What is probably the most important word in that recognition? Freely. Well, the NEA certainly can't claim title to that. Let's move on to the articles.
Essential elements of representative democracy include, inter alia, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to and the exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law, the holding of periodic, free, and fair elections based on secret balloting and universal suffrage as an expression of the sovereignty of the people, the pluralistic system of political parties and organizations, and the separation of powers and independence of the branches of government.
Of course these articles relate specifically to governments and not to unions, but an organization that considers itself democratic in nature should at least support these requirements, if not abide by them. NEA doesn't believe in secret elections; as a union, it supports the card check process for certifying unions (learn how a card check works here). NEA doesn't believe in pluralism, it believes in acting as a monolithic bloc representing "teachers", even though it supports politicians and organizations that a large percentage of its membership most likely does not.
Transparency in government activities, probity, responsible public administration on the part of governments, respect for social rights, and freedom of expression and of the press are essential components of the exercise of democracy.
The constitutional subordination of all state institutions to the legally constituted civilian authority and respect for the rule of law on the part of all institutions and sectors of society are equally essential to democracy.
Transparency is not a word I'd use to describe the workings of the teachers union. And when the NEA devotes even a page of its union rag to the 30+% of its membership that claims to be Republican, or that challenges NEA's actions, I'll consider revisiting this criticism. Until then, no.
The strengthening of political parties and other political organizations is a priority for democracy. Special attention will be paid to the problems associated with the high cost of election campaigns and the establishment of a balanced and transparent system for their financing.
Opposing viewpoints expressed in the NEA? Perish the thought. It takes outside organizations to stand up to the NEA because there isn't a fair process with which to do so internally.
It is the right and responsibility of all citizens to participate in decisions relating to their own development. This is also a necessary condition for the full and effective exercise of democracy. Promoting and fostering diverse forms of participation strengthens democracy.
I'm not quite sure what a diverse form of participation is--maybe it's supporting a Republican for president, something the NEA has never done in its 150 year history? Nah, couldn't be that!
Well, that was fun. Now let's try something domestic--the US Department of State. Here's what our own State Department, darling of the liberals, has to say about majority rule and minority rights:
On the surface, the principles of majority rule and the protection of individual and minority rights would seem contradictory. In fact, however, these principles are twin pillars holding up the very foundation of what we mean by democratic government.
Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual. Minorities -- whether as a result of ethnic background, religious belief, geographic location, income level, or simply as the losers in elections or political debate -- enjoy guaranteed basic human rights that no government, and no majority, elected or not, should remove. Minorities need to trust that the government will protect their rights and self-identity. Once this is accomplished, such groups can participate in, and contribute to their country's democratic institutions. Among the basic human rights that any democratic government must protect are freedom of speech and expression; freedom of religion and belief; due process and equal protection under the law; and freedom to organize, speak out, dissent, and participate fully in the public life of their society. Democracies understand that protecting the rights of minorities to uphold cultural identity, social practices, individual consciences, and religious activities is one of their primary tasks. Acceptance of ethnic and cultural groups that seem strange if not alien to the majority can represent one of the greatest challenges that any democratic government can face. But democracies recognize that diversity can be an enormous asset. They treat these differences in identity, culture, and values as a challenge that can strengthen and enrich them, not as a threat. There can be no single answer to how minority-group differences in views and values are resolved -- only the sure knowledge that only through the democratic process of tolerance, debate, and willingness to compromise can free societies reach agreements that embrace the twin pillars of majority rule and minority rights.
U-bots will claim that the NEA does this, but I disagree. Vehemently.
For starters, the NEA is entitled to my money--whether or not I want them to have it. They can vote all they want what to do with my money, but the fact that they get it against my will is tyranny.
I do not believe the NEA will protect my individual rights and self-identity, since the very idea of a labor union is that we're all one and speak with one voice. The NEA has no outreach to people of my political persuasion--and why should they? They get my money anyway. If I had remained a union member I wouldn't have minority status, I'd have invisible status. Yet even after resigning, they still get my money.
If you've ever seen a union at work, you'll know that dissent is never tolerated. Don't believe me? Shame on you. (Updated link here.)
Incidentally, did you know that according to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, that during the period 1975-1993 (the last time period for which I have found data), NEA ranked as the most violent public-sector union? I didn't, either, but I do now.
How can all this be fixed? Hayek answered that question decades ago in The Constitution of Liberty:
[T]he coersion of employers would lose most of its objectionable character if unions were deprived of this power to exact unwilling support.
I've said it before, several times:
Every (non-military) American has a right to join a union. Every American has a right not to join a union. Every American should have the right not to be required to support a union financially.
It must be this way if free will and freedom of association are to have any meaning at all.