National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix recently participated in a Philanthropy Roundtable panel discussion titled “Ask The Experts: Teacher Appreciation Week? How Teachers Unions Got in the Way.”

In response to a question about how teacher union officials are influencing school reopening decisions, he noted that union bosses’ power stems from their government-granted monopoly bargaining privileges:

“At its core union monopoly bargaining (also called ‘exclusive representation’) in the government sector is inherently anti-democratic because it forces elected officials to “negotiate” with union bosses over public policy, including how government schools are run. That has always been true, but the response to COVID from government union officials in general and teacher union officials in particular only reinforces how union officials wield their government-granted exclusive representation powers to undermine and oppose policies that are in the interest of the public, taxpayers and students.  There are examples of this across the country, but among the most egregious were sweeping demands by United Teachers Los Angeles union officials that included a wealth tax, defunding the police, Medicare for All and a moratorium on charter schools all as a condition of reopening Los Angeles public schools.”

Mix describes how organizations like the National Right to Work Foundation can counter union bosses’ undue influence:

“One key way to push back is to remind the public that despite the claims of union bosses like [Randi] Weingarten, many teachers oppose what union officials do in their name. Teacher union efforts to undermine the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court precedent in particular show how union officials put their own power and influence ahead of those they claim to ‘represent,’ often in violation of the First Amendment.”

Mix cites two Foundation cases that illustrate this point:

“Two ongoing National Right to Work Foundation Janus enforcement cases for teachers against the Los Angeles and Chicago teacher unions were brought by teachers who originally sought to cut off union financial support when they rebuffed union strike demands that they felt were not in the best interests of their students.”

Ifeoma Nkemdi, one of the Chicago teachers who sued the Chicago Teachers Union for restricting her right to cut off union dues, described the union bullying she faced in an interview with the Foundation. Click here to watch.

As long as union bosses have monopoly bargaining powers, Mix explains, teacher union officials will continue to undermine efforts to do what is best for students:

“The ultimate solution is to end government monopoly bargaining, either through the courts because it violates the First Amendment protections for free speech and freedom of association for teachers forced under unwanted union monopoly ‘representation,’ or by state legislators who see the detrimental impact of granting one special interest group such unique powers that let them effectively veto the will of the voters’ elected representatives. Currently in many states teacher unions are not granted such powers, and it doesn’t mean teacher unions don’t exist, simply that their role is as a voluntary association that can lobby for the interests of its members, no different from any other interest group. That is the proper role for teacher unions because, among other reasons, the education of future generations shouldn’t be a subject of bargaining negotiations with teacher union bosses. ”

Read the entire discussion here.

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