Illinois Teachers Don’t Have to Pay for Politics

Published February 5, 2014

In Illinois a teacher will pay $1,000, on average, in union dues each year. Most of these unions convince teachers they have no choice and must pay these dues to be allowed to work. Of this money, up to 80 percent, as found in Communication Workers of America v. Beck, is used for purposes other than collective bargaining, and more than 50 percent is used for politics.

But teachers do have a choice of whether their money is used for politics and other non-bargaining purposes. That choice is to resign from the union. When they do this they get a refund of dues they paid that went to purposes other than collective bargaining. They do however, still pay for any monies used for collective bargaining (otherwise known as agency fees or “fair share”).

The Family Taxpayer Foundation coordinated with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in fall 2013 to run a pilot program in select areas across Illinois. The program informed teachers of their right not to be forced to pay for politics they did not agree with. You can learn more at

Teachers Drop Their Union
Our campaign started in October and consisted of radio advertisements, emails, and direct mail. The campaign results started slowly, as expected. Once the direct mail and email got under way, the rate of information requested and resignations rapidly increased from just a few per week to dozens.

Here is what one teacher, named Jerry, said:

“If you are a teacher with conservative values and you work in a unionized public school district with ‘fair share,’ you do not have to accept the diversion of your hard-earned dollars to promote causes and candidates that offend you.

“Do not be afraid to speak up. Whether union or nonunion, every employee is hurt by ‘fair share.’ Fair share permits the union to arrogantly disregard member interests and to raise dues with impunity.

“No one should have to accept union abuse or see their hard-earned dollars go to causes they find offensive or that violate their religious beliefs.”

Of course, there has also been the exact opposite reaction. The following mailer was placed on the Illinois Education Association (IEA) website in response to one of the direct mail pieces:

Rejection letter

Brave is an IEA board member.

An IEA email also responded to our campaign.

“It is falsely claimed that ‘dues money’ is used for IEA political purposes,” it read. “While dues monies are used to support our lobbying for pro-education, labor and employment legislation benefiting our members, not a penny of dues money can or is used to support candidates for political office. Claims otherwise are blatantly untrue.”

The Early Results
Despite IEA’s protests, the results of our campaign have been very good and have exceeded our initial target of 1 percent resignations. As the campaign progressed, we found out what messaging and methods worked best. This data helped us to adjust our campaign, enabling us to extend it slightly and target it better. At the current pace of resignations and information requests, our final test campaign results will be closer to double the initial targeted goals.

The test campaign will end soon. As we perform a final analysis of the data, we expect to be able to replicate and increase our results as we run a full statewide campaign this fall.

As Jack Roeser, chairman of the Family Taxpayers Foundation, says, “The teachers are the victims of their own union. We must expose the union bosses. They are liars.”

This information campaign was simple, a matter of teachers with the facts about their rights. Teachers have proven to be very interested in knowing the truth about their rights.

Image by Brent Moore