“As a teacher, you bust your butt to make a respectable salary, only to realize that your union dues are financing huge salaries for strangers with vague job titles.”
Dave Chaump had this realization after 22 years of teaching music in Abington Heights School District. He was spending $900 per year on union dues, with a vague sense that the money would help his PSEA representative negotiate a better salary for him and his colleagues. His experience with the district—arbitrary teacher strikes and a lack of basic transparency—told him differently, but he thought he had no other option.
It angered Dave that he paid so much out of his modest teacher’s salary for the president of the PSEA to make $244,000 a year. It frustrated him how little of his dues went to actual representation.
Then the Supreme Court issued the Janus v. AFSCME decision in 2018. It cemented Dave’s right to resign from his union and stop paying these dues—and more importantly, stop supporting behavior he disagreed with.
“It sounds crazy, but life as a member of the PSEA was like a Hollywood script about some cult brainwashing its members in order to maintain power,” he said. “Leaders guarded information like state secrets and frowned upon questions or dissent. Independent political thought contrary to the official PSEA company line was unwelcome, and groupthink reigned.”
Dave was one of the few members who dared speak out at his local PSEA union’s general membership meetings, because he felt like he wasn’t getting any information—or any say. He had to work behind the scenes to obtain budget reports, even though the union’s official rules directed that the reports be transparent to members.
According to Dave, the PSEA had become more of a far-left political activist group and less of an organization advocating for quality education. He said now is the time for educators to take a long, critical look at the unions they are financing and ask themselves if they are happy with the way things are being run.