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Breaking steady habits

The following is an excerpt from our Saturday email, which includes our musings on the latest developments impacting public employees, links to that week’s labor news, and a collection of whimsical reads for your weekend. If you’d like to receive our weekly email, you can use the sign-up form at the bottom of this page. We promise to respect your inbox, and we will never share your email address.

In the state known as the land of steady habits, some teachers are shaking things up by saying enough is enough and parting ways with the state’s largest teachers union, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA).
The CEA has a history of gambling with the future of its members. Its reckless behavior at the bargaining table has resulted in a devastating underfunding of the state’s pension fund for teachers. Union leadership played a frustrating game of flip flopping on vaccine mandates last year, first saying no to mandates and then pressuring teachers to get vaccinated…and then only including a fraction of teachers in a survey about mask and vaccine mandates.
Not to mention Connecticut teachers are excluded from Social Security, younger teachers are leaving the profession at record rates, and the state’s largest union only recognizes the First Amendment rights of teachers for 31 days of the year.
So, it’s understandable that teachers would tire of a union that has repeatedly mistreated them.
Over the past few weeks, AFFT has received a record number of emails and phone calls from Connecticut teachers leaving their union. These teachers are turning to much more responsive union “alternatives” and finding community in AFFT membership.
These alternatives include national organizations like the Association of American Educators (AAE) and Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), which provide teachers with competitive liability insurance policies, professional development resources, and legal assistance. There are also state-specific union alternatives like Pennsylvania’s Keystone Teachers Association (KEYTA).
Unlike the national teachers unions, these national union alternatives focus solely on member services, eschewing the political behavior of national teachers unions. While a union alternative does not collectively bargain on behalf of members – union alternatives are c3 organizations, unlike the unions’ c5 status – these organizations can provide powerful legal support and insurance coverage. They also provide members with ample opportunity to connect with fellow teachers.
As more teachers choose to resign their union membership, all signs point to explosive demand for alternatives, which are truly focused on members only.

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Elisabeth Messenger

Elisabeth Messenger is CEO of 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, Elisabeth was in the publicity department at Atlantic Records in Los Angeles, CA. From there, she learned how to build organizations that would impact culture through positions in operations and business development at Universal Music Group, VEVO, and Beats Music.