One of our members, who asked to remain anonymous, has a message for her fellow teachers: You don’t have to join a union.

This member is a fairly new teacher. She just finished her second year of teaching high school social studies. She decided from the get-go that she wasn’t going to sign up for the union, so she didn’t.

“When I came to my school, I did have a union rep hand me a folder and encourage me to join,” she said. “When I said I was not interested, he did become a bit combative, though he later apologized and told me it was my choice.”

She said she didn’t want to join a union for a variety of reasons, including how unions use regular dues money for politics and then claim they don’t, and how they use their public platforms – including social media and conferences – to push a political agenda and support political candidates.

In addition, she said she supports school choice and does not agree with how the unions lobby to limit educational options for children. She is also troubled by union protection of poorly equipped teachers, and the way the union wants all layoff decisions to be based on seniority.

“I feel that unions disincentivize teachers from working hard by rejecting merit pay and wanting all decisions to only be based on years of service,” she said.

Teachers have alternatives to joining a union, she said. They can sign up for associations like the Association of American Educators, and they can find community in organizations like Americans for Fair Treatment.

“You don’t have to be a radical conservative to reject the union,” she said. “There are reasons that all people, from all walks of life, should say no to non-local unions.”

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.

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