School Board Policy on Taxpayer Subsidies

Published October 1, 1999

To safeguard taxpayer interests, school boards should consider adopting federal standards governing taxpayer subsidies to teacher unions, suggests Education Policy Institute Chairman Myron Lieberman.

These standards, established more than 50 years ago in the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, make it unlawful for anyone acting for an employer to provide–or even agree to provide–money or anything of value to any employee representative, labor organization, or labor organization employee. Conversely, anyone on the employee side is prohibited from asking for or accepting such assistance.

Under the federal law, the following forms of assistance have been deemed illegal:

  • monetary contributions to the union;
  • paying employee representatives for attending committee meetings;
  • paying union expenses or obligations;
  • providing legal or secretarial services;
  • paying employees for time spent in union organization work;
  • allowing union solicitation or meetings on company time or property;
  • allowing the union to use company property, such as stationery or printing facilities.

“Clearly, if the standards embodied in federal labor law were applicable to the state teacher bargaining laws, the teacher unions (and the school boards) would be committing hundreds of unfair labor practices every day,” notes Lieberman. School boards, he says, should insist on these safeguards in their relations with unions of school district employees.