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Member Spotlight: Alex & Sarah Gimmi

Alex and Sarah Gimmi are both educators in Florida, teaching high school English and 5th grade, respectively. Below are their stories, explaining their experiences with the union and why they decided to end their union membership.  

Alex’s Story

When I first began teaching, colleagues and mentors encouraged me to join the union because of the protections it offered. Being a new educator, I did not think to question the motives of an organization that is advertised as being an advocate for me and willing to protect me in the case of any false accusation.  

After a few years as a member of the union and going to regular meetings on campus, I decided to run for election and become a union rep at our building. The more I attended rep council meetings, the more it became clear that the union was politically engaged, and much of the union dues were being sent outside of our local organization.  

After a few months as a union rep, AFFT made me aware of the Teacher Freedom Summit, hosted by Freedom Foundation, and I decided to attend. Throughout the conference, it became clear to me that the “corporate unions” are acting as political agents pushing an agenda, rather than focusing on the well-being of students and teachers, pay, and working conditions, as a union should.  

Throughout this journey, my wife Sarah took the courageous step of leaving her union, while I remained a union rep in my district. A few months after the Teacher Freedom Summit, I resigned as a rep in our local union and ultimately decided to resign my membership altogether. The only reason I was able to do this was because of the confidence that I had in union alternatives that could afford me better protections than the union could ever offer me. 

I stumbled upon Christian Educators one evening, looking for like-minded public-school teachers who support each other. Sarah and I decided to invest in a membership with Christian Educators.  

Christian Educators and AFFT have been quick to respond, willing to help, and unwilling to lie to try to convince me to make any decision. The more I engaged in union affairs, the more I was struck by the lack of honesty by union leadership and their dealings with members. It quickly became clear that the corporate union needed to lie to ensure that their membership quotas were met. However, the opposite was true of Christian Educators and AFFT.  

I was struck by the transparency of both organizations and the lack of pressure to make a quick decision to leave my union. Both Christian Educators and AFFT presented me with the facts, were willing to support me, and always responded when I contacted them without spreading untruths about any other organization. Through our membership with Christian Educators, Sarah and I have access to better liability insurance, legal consultations, and a network of people willing to pray for us at any time!  

The most important aspect of both Christian Educators and AFFT has been the ability to go to the Teacher Freedom Summit, which has allowed me to build relationships with like-minded teachers around the nation. Having the ability to interact with the best and brightest minds in education has undoubtably made me a better teacher and allowed me to enter the classroom each day with confidence, knowing that I’m not alone. Christian Educators and AFFT opened many doors for me, and I would encourage anybody to consider joining these two great organizations!” 

Sarah’s story

At risk of sounding repetitive, I will keep my side of this short as most of what my husband stated about AFFT and Christian Educators rings true for me, too. However, my story with the union is quite different.  

I joined our local union very quickly after becoming a teacher because, like Alex, I was concerned about accusations and wanted the protections that the union offered. However, over the years, I found that people were calling on the union for help and weren’t necessarily getting what they expected.  

The union in my district is local-only and not affiliated with any state or national unions. Despite this, the union was incredibly political, supporting candidates for the local school board and pushing a political agenda in our schools. I grew increasingly uncomfortable with this over the years.  

So, when we had to switch to E-dues, requiring payment of dues through a personal bank account rather than as a payroll deduction, I saw this as a chance to leave. I just never signed back up. I was only pestered about it once or twice, but I stuck to my choice. I contacted AFFT for an official opt-out letter to resign my union membership which I put in my union reps’ mailboxes, and that effectively ended the pestering.  

I have no regrets about leaving the union and proudly tell everyone that I left and am a member of Christian Educators and AFFT instead. In fact, when one of the union reps at my school called me during instructional time to try to convince me to stay in the union, I informed him that I belonged to a professional group that offered better assistance and coverage than the union did.  

His response was, “Well, I just hope nothing happens to you.” I told him even if it did, I had Christian Educators and AFFT on my side and that gave me the confidence I needed to continue teaching and working hard for my students.” 

Americans for Fair Treatment

Americans for Fair Treatment is a free, membership, non-profit organization designed to help public sector workers exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of coercion from unions.