Non-union options growing for public sector
A Naperville school employee who recently walked away from the public-sector union for workers seemingly is not alone in feeling underserved by her union bosses.
The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) has seen a steady drop in the number of dues-paying members ever since a U.S. Supreme Court decision established that workers did not have to pay union dues just to be able to keep their jobs. In the wake of the verdict, Illinois Policy Institute has reported the number of IFT members dipped by nearly 7 percent over a yearlong period commencing in 2017, falling from 101,046 in 2017 to 94,229 in 2018.
In Naperville, the worker, who opted out of the Naperville Unit Education Agreement, stressed collective bargaining has not been good for government workers.
“The public-sector unions are kind of killing our state,” she told DuPage Policy Journal on condition of anonymity. “Nobody is there in negotiations to protect the taxpayer.”
In the end, the worker insisted her decision to walk away was more about rules than dues.
“I opted out because of my beliefs,” she said. “I think someone [in the union] is taking advantage [of taxpayers] and it's unsustainable. I opted out because I don’t feel like we should have it because it’s incorrect, so I don’t want to go on with something that’s wrong.”
Meanwhile, teachers in Illinois now have the option of joining groups like the Association of American Educators (AAE), where 65 percent of members recently indicated in a 2019 National Membership Survey that they would rather negotiate their own contracts as opposed to being bound by collective-bargaining agreements. Among people under 40, AAE researchers noted those percentages were even greater.
“More money is only part of the conversation,” said AAE Foundation Director of Advocacy McKenzie Allen. “Districts and unions would be well-served if they would embrace more options and more personalization to better reflect each educator’s needs and career goals.”
With over 22,000 members spanning all 50 states, AAE brands itself as offering liability insurance and job protection “at a fraction of the cost of union membership.”
The Illinois Policy Institute has created Leave My Union for other public-sector employees looking to opt out of their unions.
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