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Public unions: Navigating new era of opting in rather than opting out

Let's look at how the Supreme Court's Janus decision may affect public employees who have been paying full union dues.  This op-ed originally appeared in the Star Tribune on September 15, 2018. It is back-to-school time for teachers and education support professionals (ESPs), but is it back to the union, as well? At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forcing public employees to fund a union as a condition of employment violated their First Amendment rights. That long-anticipated decision in Janus vs. AFSCME had immediate financial consequences for Minnesota’s public-sector unions and some employees. Across Minnesota, government employers stopped...

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Why Eric Kaler’s Successor Likely Will Be a Rookie

The Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota appointed a committee last week to lead the search for a new president, as current president Eric Kaler will step down next year.  Nothing in the Star Tribune story about the committee was unconventional or unanticipated, including Regent Abdul Omari, chair of the committee, stressing “the importance of protecting the confidentiality of contenders for the job before they are identified as finalists to make sure strong candidates are not discouraged from applying.” Quick, before going on:  Who was the last U of M president who was president of another college or university...

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Research suggests that hiring ‘diversity officers’ is a waste of money

As student debt becomes a more onerous problem in the American economy, we have to look at why fees have risen so much. This leads us back to the disproportionate increase in admin hires. And this should lead us to look for fat to cut. Thankfully, the economists as the NBER have helped us identify some. ...

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“Public Support Climbs for . . . Charter Schools and Universal Vouchers”

Because of causes I can safely guess, national polling last year showed weaker support for various types of school choice than had been the case.  This included charter schools (which emphatically are public schools) along with policies that enable generally lower-income parents to send their son or daughter to an independent school if it looks to be a strong fit for their child. My “safely guessing” has something to do with shiploads of ridiculous and simply wrong things candidates and others on the left, especially teacher union officials, said and wrote about parental choice during the 2016 election cycle.   But according...

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Survey Says: Majority of Public Sector Union Members See Janus Ruling as ‘Positive’

It has been nearly two months to the day since the U.S. Supreme Court decided to give all public employees a voice and choice when it comes to union membership. Prior to the ruling, awareness of the Janus v. AFSCME case was quite low. But a new survey of government union members shows post-Janus knowledge of the Supreme Court ruling is high, and many think the ruling is a positive development....

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Teachers and ESPs have a Narrow Seven -Day Window to Resign from Education Minnesota: September 24-30

In most cases, the terms for resigning from the union are usually based on the anniversary date of when you signed the card. This means that the date to resign is unique to the individual employee. But for the 66,000 licensed K-12 teachers and 7,400 ESPs (para-professionals, payroll clerks and lunch room helpers) who signed an Education Minnesota union card, there is a very narrow seven-day window to resign that runs between September 24 and September 30. ...

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Failed education ideas about to transform Twin Cities region

On July 25, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling with the potential to transform K-12 education in the Twin Cities region for decades to come. The court decided that Cruz-Guzman v. State of Minnesota—a case in which plaintiffs seek court-ordered metro-wide racial balancing in the Twin Cities’ region’s public schools—can go forward. Plaintiffs will now return to district court. There they will demand a comprehensive, legislatively mandated plan to distribute students—including those in suburban districts and charter schools—into schools across the metro area on the basis of their race and socio-economic status. The remedy plaintiffs seek will likely cost taxpayers enormous sums...

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Pensions are under pressure, but unions misplace the blame

Minnesota’s unfunded public pension obligations are not a new problem. But reform is difficult when government unions turn a blind eye to shortchanged pension funds and oppose necessary steps to fix the broken system. Several of the state’s public sector unions—including Education Minnesota, SEIU, and AFSCME Council 5—retweeted a cartoon about pensions with a perilous message about the state of defined benefit plans. The unions are scaring their members into thinking pensions will disappear because of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Janus v. AFSCME, conveniently excluding the fact that Minnesota has had pension liabilities each year for almost a...

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