In PA, forced unionism is negotiable between unions and public employers
Forced unionism employment contracts exist in c. two thirds of all school districts in Pennsylvania, affecting c. 75% of all teachers. Teacher strikes occur overwhelmingly in forced unionism school districts. In the 2005-2006 school year, 85% of teacher strikes occured in forced unionism school districts. When teacher strikes occur in school districts that do not have forced unionism, it is nearly always a striking demand.
Elected school board officials negotiate employment contracts every 3-5 years with a local affiliate of the PSEA-NEA or AFT teacher labor unions. Pennsylvania's school board directors have the legal right to agree to, or deny, forced unionism. You may ask for a copy of the union contract from your school district under Pennsylvania's Right-To-Know law.
Suggestion for current or prospective non-union teachers & school board members:
Forcing unwanted union representation onto an individual and then forcing them to pay for it, is hardly "fair". We recommend NOT using this terminology. Please substitute the phrase Fair Share with the phrase "coerced union fees" in all communications. Thank-you.
The following are forced unionism contract clauses:
|Monopoly bargaining rights
|Teachers have no legal right to choose their workplace representation. Non-union teachers are forced into accepting representation from the one union granted exclusivity in that school district. All teachers get the same employment contract, regardless of whether they are in the union or not. The union is empowered through compulsory collectivism to represent teachers who are not their members.
|"Fair-Share" or "Act 84 fee"
||All public employees are forced to pay dues to the union as a condition of their employment - even when they are not union members. All employeess must pay dues, or they cannot get or keep a job with that public employer. This item is negotiable locally under either Act 84 of 1988 or Act 15 of 1993 i.e. a public employer does not have to agree to it.
|"Maintenance of Membership"
||A teacher can join the union whenever they like, but they are not free to leave whenever they like. This contract clause which is legal under state law, has questionable Constitutionality under the first amendment. The Pennsbury School District in Bucks County has this contract clause. In the Pennsbury School Distrct, a union teacher is forced to remain in the union (and pay full union dues) for the life of the contract. A window of just 15 days is given for teachers who wish to resign union membership ahead of contract expiration. The union is unlikely to remind any teacher of this window, thereby ensuring that teachers are once again forced into remaining union members. This item is negotiable locally under Act 195 of 1970 i.e. a public employer does not have to agree to it.
|Union fees collection
||The school district is required at taxpayer expense, to automatically deduct union fees through teachers' paychecks and send the money to the union. The alternative is for the union to collect its fees away from school property, without burdening taxpayers with administrative expense. Should a public school district act as a collection agent for private union business? This item is negotiable locally under Act 195 of 1970 i.e. a public employer does not have to agree to it.
In a civilized society it should be unthinkable to force anyone into paying dues to a union, just to get or keep a job as a public employee. In a free society, belonging to, and/or paying dues to a union should be a voluntary choice. Yet c. 75% of all teachers working in Pennsylvania have their freedom of choice denied. This is how many teachers work under agency-shop contracts, agreed to, by their school board and the union. Many teachers also work under quasi union-shop ('maintenance of membership') contracts that ensure union teachers cannot leave the union whenever they like.
It is anti-American, and anti-freedom to force unionism on teachers. When the union demands the above contract clauses, it seeks to compel support from teachers instead of attracting it. School Boards do not have to agree to compulsory union fees.
To listen to a radio interview with Susan Staub, President of Pennsylvanians For Right To Work, please click here.
"To compel an individual to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he or she disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical."
State law in Pennsylvania
In 1970 with Act 195, teachers were given the right to collectively bargain and the main state teacher unions (PSEA & PFT) were granted monopoly bargaining rights in school districts. The PSEA are dominant in Pennsylvania via their local affiliates, with just a few districts being represented by the PFT. The PSEA are the largest state affiliate of the NEA, while the PFT are part of the AFT (AFL-CIO). The 1970 law made "dues deduction" and "maintenance of membership" negotiable items in a contract. No teacher can be (legally) forced to join a union, but they are forced into being represented by the one union operating in their school district. Teachers have no choice as to who represents them when receiving an employment contract. In exchange for monopoly bargaining rights, it was deemed appropriate that non-union teachers should not have to pay union dues. It was deemed unreasonable to force representation on teachers and then force them to pay for it.
This changed in 1988 when Pennsylvania enacted Act 84, the so-called Fair Share law which meant that non-union school employees could be forced to pay dues to the union. Pennsylvania enacted Act 15 in 1993 which is the "fare share" law for local and county employees. It was left to each individual public employer to negotiate if they wanted to have such an agency shop agreement. Public employers can agree to agency shop (or not) at their discretion. If an agency shop ('fair share') agreement exists in a school district then non-union teachers are forced into having dues witheld from their paycheck without their permission. If an agency shop agreement does not exist in a school district, then non-union teachers do not have to pay dues to the union. The list of school districts which have an agency shop agreement can be found at the bottom of this page.
Agency-shop (Fair Share ) in the eyes of the union
Non-union teachers benefit from the employment contract that the union negotiates on their behalf, so these teachers should pay their fair share towards the cost of collective bargaining and contract administration. They do not have to pay full union dues, instead they pay a slightly discounted rate called 'agency fees' to cover their portion of the cost of collective bargaining. This is only fair since those teachers benefit from the contract. They shouldn't be allowed to be free riders.
John Smith cuts all the lawns in your neighborhood, yet you tell him not to cut your lawn. Maybe you don't like the way he cuts lawns or maybe you just don't like John. Whatever your reason is, you categorically tell him not to cut your lawn. One Sunday he comes to your neighborhood and cuts all the neighbors lawns including yours. He knocks on your door and says that you owe him money. Are you obligated to pay him? Welcome to fair-share! In the union view of the world, John knows what is best for you, and he shall have the right to cut your lawn even when you ask him not to. Then he shall have the right to charge you money for his service.
Agency-shop (Fair Share ) - the reality
Fair share is compulsory dues. A non-union employee is forced to financially support an organization they did not vote for, in order to receive monopoly representation they have no choice over. It is financial coercion and a violation of freedom of choice. Money is forcibly withheld from non-union employees' paychecks and sent to a private organization. When an agency-shop agreement exists in a school district or county, every employee must pay dues to the union as a condition of their employment. They must pay-up or leave. Should anyone's ability to get or keep a job depend on whether they pay dues to a union? Non-union teachers have struggled in court to try and stop their forced dues from being used for political activity by the union.
Message for public employers (and parents / taxpayers)
Forced unionism may not be a fiscal matter to the district or the taxpayer, but you are the only guardians of your employees' liberty. You are their employer so please stand up for their freedom to choose, and eliminate forced unionism from your workplace. Please read the article "Compulsory Union Fees - School Board Member's Rights and Responsibilities" here. The link between forced unionism and taxes can be found here.