Teachers’ union forces members to fund PAC, refund request process is tricky

Each year, Education Minnesota charges member teachers and education support professionals (ESPs) $25.00 for its political action committee or “PAC.” PAC money is spent on supporting political parties (okay, mostly one party), candidates (mostly from one party) and other political funds (aligned with one party). According to a recent filing, Education Minnesota raised $3,387,483 in PAC money between January 1 and December 31, 2018. Of that, over $2.2 million in cash and in kind contributions went to DFL political parties alone.

If teachers and other educators would like to protect their constitutional right to not fund the union’s PAC, the process to get the forced $25 contribution refunded is not easy.

Because the Education Minnesota union membership card treats the deductions for the PAC as part of union dues, teachers and ESPs are not offered the right to opt-out of the deductions once and for all. The refund must be requested every single year. Refund request forms are available in the union’s magazine Minnesota Educator (p. 18), but “NO PHOTOCOPIES ACCEPTED” and multiple forms cannot be requested. The form must then be mailed to Education Minnesota’s accounting department.

The deadline for the refund is October 31 for continuing members, or within 30 days of signing a membership application for new members.

Could the refund process be any more complicated? All for $25?

Educators should not have this additional burden imposed on them just to exercise their constitutional right to not fund a union PAC. Twenty-five dollars is not a lot of money, but it is a matter of principle. And it should be a matter of choice to contribute in the first place versus the union taking the money and forcing teachers to go through a cumbersome process to ask for it back.

Education Minnesota should collect PAC money separate from the union membership card. This would better respect teachers’ varying political ideologies and help clear away the spider’s web of rules the union uses to make the refund process a burden on its members.

Reach out to us at info@EducatedTeachersMN.com if you have questions about the refund process.