Monday, May 24, 2010

Teachers In Texas Have A Right I Wish I Had

Larry Sand, the president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, penned the following piece on a victory for Texas teachers:

On May 14, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott delivered an opinion that could have national educational and political ramifications for years to come. In short, the decision stated that school districts may not fund political action committees of teacher unions via payroll deductions.

When unionized teachers are paid, their dues are deducted from their salary by the local school district, just like withholding tax. Part of each month’s union dues goes toward union political spending. What this decision means is that the while the local district can still collect the part of dues that goes for collective bargaining, they can no longer withhold the part that goes for the union’s political agenda. The union will have to collect that money on a voluntary basis and many teachers are not going to volunteer to do that. Thus, the Texas State Teachers Association will now have far less money to spend on its various candidates and causes, most of which run considerably to the left of center and frequently are very child unfriendly.
Can you imagine how much less money the NEA/CTA would have if teachers had to write a check each month for donations to the unions' political activities?


Rhymes With Right said...

Hate to disappoint you, but that does not mean quite what you think it does. The district must deduct the dues (which are voluntary in this right to work state -- no agency fees, either), but cannot deduct PAC contributions that have traditionally included on the annual sign-up forms (you must reauthorize dues annually or they stop).

Darren said...

I know that Texas is a Right To Work state and that all union membership there is voluntary. My point was to suggest that if a similar ruling were to occur in California, where over 1/3 of my annual dues goes to "non-chargeable" (i.e. political) expenditures and hence couldn't be deducted from paychecks, the impact would be immense.

Mike Antonucci said...

Actually, Rhymes with Right is wrong. In California, the law allows the union to deduct state PAC contributions (about $18) without annual reauthorization. There are a handful of states with similar arrangements. All members of CTA have PAC contributions deducted from their paychecks, whether they know it or not. They have to ask, in writing, for the money back.

Steve USMA '85 said...

I agree with you Darren, having it be 'opt-in' not 'opt-out' would dramatically decrease the amount they collect.

We'll hire you but you have to join the union. Dues are $1,000/year.

"OK, I'll join."

We'll hire you but you have to join the union. Now, do you want your dues to be $700/year or $1,000/year?

"Duh! $700 of course."

Ellen K said...

As a Texas Teacher I have to tell you that TSTA is only supported by the largely liberal urban contingent. It costs far more than the other state teachers' organizations. I just have it for liability insurance and the few discounts they negotiate. TSTA/NEA just isn't worth it. And no, I do not support unions for the most part.

Darren said...

I just heard from Larry Sand, who wrote the linked article. He said that he spoke to Leo Berman, the TX Congressman who got this ball rolling in 2008. He (Sand) told me in no uncertain terms that the AG's opinion refers to all political spending, not just PACs.

Jill said...

I am utterly happy to see this. I only wish it were so in CA.

I'd like to see just how much the union will admit to using for political causes/candidates.