If the teachers union is as wonderful as it claims, then it should have no problem attracting members, without the need to force teachers to join. How is this any different from any other professional organization that teachers, as professionals, may choose to join? It’s a question I have been pondering since I became a public teacher in Wisconsin.
For years, I have chosen not to be a member of the union. However, this is a choice that I didn’t exactly have before Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill went into law. As a compulsory union state where teachers are required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, the most I could hope for was a “Fair Share” membership, where the union refunded me a small portion of the money that was taken from my paycheck that lawyers have deemed “un-chargeable.”
Every September, after lengthy, bureaucratic and unadvertised hurdles, I would file my certified letter to try to withdraw my union membership. Then, they would proceed to drag their feet in issuing me my small refund. I often wondered why this kind of burden would be put on an individual teacher like me. Shouldn’t it be up to the organization to convince people and sell its benefits to potential members afresh each year? Why should I have to move mountains each fall to break ties with this group that I don’t want to be a part of in the first place? Something seemed dreadfully wrong with that picture.
I long to have the same individual right in California that this teacher in "progressive" Wisconsin has.