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Teacher Back-to-School To-Do List: Review Union Membership—Check

Rea S. Hederman Jr. Sep 08, 2020

As students and teachers return to school, educators are preparing for a new—and unique—school year, getting their classrooms ready—or their at home “office”, and reviewing their to-do lists. One item on the to-do list is the decision to join, remain in, or leave the union. Teachers across the country will make different decisions on this important question and their reasons will vary. Some teachers disagree with the union’s political positions, some believe the union is too expensive and offers little direct benefit to them, some would simply rather spend their money elsewhere, and some believe that union membership is the best decision for them.  

In making the important decision on union membership, teachers know that the more information they have, the better informed their decision will be, so here are a few facts that teachers might not be aware of:

  • Teachers cannot be forced to join or pay fees to a union. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that teachers, in fact all public employees, cannot be forced to pay mandatory union fees as a condition of employment. The ruling in Janus v. AFSCME recognized the First Amendment rights of teachers and protects those who dissent from unions.
  • Almost nine out of 10 teachers believe they should be able to join or leave a union whenever they choose. Unfortunately, teachers still have problems leaving the union. Fortunately there are groups, like The Buckeye Institute, that are fighting to change that.
  • There are other groups that offer liability protection and professional development resources to teachers. While liability protection is not a requirement in Ohio, private non-profit groups like the Association of American Educators and the Christian Educators Association provide liability insurance and other resources for teachers. 
  • Teachers will not lose seniority or tenure if they leave the union. Seniority, tenure, and employment are not tied to union membership and there are numerous state and federal laws that protect tenure and seniority regardless of union membership. 

If you are one of Ohio’s hardworking teachers who decides union membership is not for you, you can begin the process of notifying your union of your choice at www.WorkersChoose.org, and cross one more thing off your to-do list.

Rea S. Hederman Jr. is the executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy.