Understanding the Teacher Unions

Published July 1, 1999

The Washington, DC-based Education Policy Institute has published the following three monographs as the start of a new Series on Teacher Unions:

Agency Fees: How Fair Are “Fair Share” Fees?

EPI Chairman Myron Lieberman clarifies the major issues associated with union agency fees: fees that nonmembers must pay to the union for representation services, or face dismissal from employment. Although nonmembers are supposed to pay only for their pro-rata share of collective bargaining costs, union accounting procedures make this calculation extremely difficult. Lieberman concludes that state legislators should repeal statutes requiring agency fees.

Teacher Unions and Parent Involvement

Although teacher union rhetoric praises the idea of “parental involvement” in education, teacher union policies discourage meaningful participation by parents in school affairs, according to this monograph by EPI President Charlene K. Haar. As well as opposing legislation that would empower parents to choose their child’s school, the teacher unions dominate the National PTA to the extent that parents trying to terminate incompetent teachers are characterized as “meddling.”

NEA/AFT Membership: The Critical Issues

Here, Lieberman and Haar present an analysis of teacher union membership and nonmembership options and consequences. Although many members are dissatisfied with their union–for example, with NEA/AFT involvement in issues unrelated to education–the only practical way for most teachers to express their dissatisfaction is to become nonmembers. The authors suggest that “many teachers are considering efforts to replace the NEA/AFT affiliate with an independent teacher union as the bargaining agent.”

For more information …

Publications in the EPI Series on Teacher Unions are available at a cost of $6.00 each through the Education Policy Institute, 4401-A Connecticut Avenue NW, Box 294, Washington, DC 20008, phone 202/244_7535, fax 202/244-7584, email: [email protected]. They also are available on the Internet at http://www.educationpolicy.org/EPIseries.