What a nice Thanksgiving gift! Today in the mail I received my agency fee rebate check from the CTA. If you don't know what that means, let me explain.
With regards to union membership, there are two types of states: "right to work" states, wherein an employee has a right to work without being required to pay a union, and "fair share" states, where employees are required to pay a union. Twenty-six states are "right to work" states, and of course California isn't one of them. As a result, I'm required to pay a union as a condition of my employment. In fact, not paying a union is about the only thing a teacher could do that would cause the teachers union to push for dismissal.
We all learned about "closed shops" back in high school history class, places where union membership was required as a condition of employment (BTW, closed shops were put in place to keep blacks from working, but that's yet another sordid detail from union history--that, and the violence). Closed shops are now illegal in the United States. As a result, I'm required to pay a union to "represent" me but I'm not required to be a union member.
Due to a few court cases, though, I'm only required to pay for those activities that a supposedly impartial arbiter (paid for by the union) determines are directly related to collective bargaining and organizing. Each year I have to send a certified letter to the CTA requesting my refund, and each year they send it (why I only have to resign once, but have to request the money each year, is a situation that exceeds my own logic). Usually I get somewhat over $300 of my over $1000 a year in union dues refunded to me.
This being an election year, though, my rebate check was slightly over $400. Take a look at the percentages below. The national teachers union spent almost 5/8 of its money on activities not related to collective bargaining (e.g., political donations), and the state and local unions spent about a third of their money on such activities:
Keep these percentages in mind when you hear unions and other lefties wanting to overturn the Citizens United case!
Anyway, if you're a California teacher and would like to learn more about your rights regarding union membership (or non-membership, if that is your choice), visit the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.