Teacher truths: ‘Freeloader’ claims are misleading & disparaging

Public-sector unions fought for — and won — the right to represent all employees within their bargaining unit, regardless of union membership status. Because government unions have exclusive representation rights as a matter of law, they collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers.

The union could lobby — as it does on many other things — to change the long-standing statutory right of unions to exclusively represent all employees in a bargaining unit. If unions wish to maintain the monopolistic privilege of exclusive agency, they create the “free rider” claims so often complained about.

Just as educators encourage their students to be independent thinkers and hold true to themselves, so too should educators be trusted by their colleagues to make decisions that are best for them and their families. Unfortunately, not all of those in the education field exhibit this respect and instead succumb to name-calling such as “free riders” or “freeloaders.”

I am not aware of any educator who wants to be a “freeloader” or take advantage of others. Teachers are in the education field because of their desire to serve others.

Educators cannot choose to belong only to the local union, which deals with most of the representational and collective bargaining activities. A popular solution for educators who have resigned from union membership is to send a voluntary donation to the local association. This solves the “free rider” problem and keeps the money local.

Instead of assuming the worst in our civil servants by calling them “freeloaders,” shouldn’t unions ask themselves why these public employees are looking for an exit?


The September Opt-Out Window for Minnesota educators who are union members is officially open (Sept. 1-Sept. 30). Visit here to learn more about your options and how to exercise your rights!