Minnesota teachers are trapped by arbitrary union terms, forcing them to fund Education Minnesota’s partisan political spending.
I get to talk to the hosts of Education Nation tonight about the one of my favorite topics: how the teachers’ union is a political organization using teachers’ dues to fund a decidedly leftist agenda that has damaged the teaching profession and brought chaos to our public schools and culture.
Education Nation hosts, Rebekah Hagstrom and Marc Durkin, on 1280AM The Patriot broadcast every Saturday night from 6:00—6:30 pm.
Tonight we will review a report my colleague Catrin Thorman and I released this winter. It reveals how Minnesota teachers are trapped by arbitrary union terms, forcing them to fund Education Minnesota’s partisan political spending even after the Janus decision.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. Afscme said that public employers can no longer collect “fair-share” agency fees from employees who are not members of their workplace union. Minnesota public employers have complied with that order.
The court also said that public employers and unions should not assume that employees, including people who had previously signed union cards, have waived their First Amendment right to decline union membership. The reason is that all union activity, including collective bargaining, is highly political.
Yet Minnesota’s public employers have continued to deduct union dues without getting permission from employees to do so.
The report describes how arbitrary union terms impact the First Amendment rights of teachers by locking them into supporting Education Minnesota. For example, union membership rules restrict teachers who want to resign to a seven-day window once a year. Exclusive representation, the collection of dues and PAC money and other aspects of the union membership enforced by public employers impact the First Amendment rights of teachers.
The report also describes in detail how Education Minnesota spends dues and PAC revenue on generous executive salaries and far-left candidates and political organizations.
For example, in 2015-2016, 71 percent of Education Minnesota’s staff of about 156 employees earned more than the average teacher, with 56 employees earning well over $100,000. In 2017, President Denise Specht earned $190,316 and an “organizer’s” salary jumped $15,355 to $127,830. A field staffer’s salary jumped $12,415 to $124,817.
PAC money, which is collected through union dues, goes almost exclusively to DFL candidates and causes, with an occasional, small donation to a Republican candidate. If a teacher wants a PAC refund, he or she must go through a difficult process designed to discourage refunds.
Americans should not lose their civil rights when they go to work for the government. Unfortunately, it took the Court over forty years to restore public employees’ full First Amendment rights, but over those many years, government unions embedded themselves into the state and our schools. Janus is just the first step in restoring a proper balance. Teachers need practical information to decide whether to continue to fund Education Minnesota’s agenda.
Minnesota teachers and education support professionals can find more information at “Educated Teachers MN” (www.EducatedTeachersMN.com) and sign up for email alerts.
The Center’s report, “Education Minnesota, Union Membership and the First Amendment,” is available here.