A new project being launched on National Teacher Appreciation Day, Educated Teachers MN aims to inform and empower Minnesota K-12 educators by raising awareness of a U.S. Supreme Court case widely expected to end the forced payment of union dues and fees by teachers and other government employees as a condition of employment.
In 2016-2017 Education Minnesota collected over $50 million in dues and fees from 75,000 teachers statewide that were used for collective bargaining, lobbying and advancing the union’s political agenda.
But Education Minnesota, AFSCME-5 and other statewide public employee unions are already bracing for the potential loss of thousands of members and millions of dollars in revenue if the high court rules against public unions, as widely expected, in the case of Janus v. AFSCME by the end of June.
“Public unions are guaranteed revenue under current law; they do not have to earn it,” said Kim Crockett, Director of Educated Teachers MN. “Imagine if the teachers’ union had to treat teachers as a customer instead of a captive. That would be good for teachers, students, and the union.”
The EducatedTeachersMN.com website provides teachers with facts on how Education Minnesota spends dues and fees deducted from their paychecks, as well as alternatives for educators to advance their interests apart from the statewide teachers’ union. Teachers pay between $800 to $1,400 in annual dues. If the Court rules that public employees can opt-out of paying union fees, the website will offer information about that process.
In the last reporting cycle, for example, Education Minnesota increased spending on “Political Activities and Lobbying” by $1.3 million, while increasing spending on “Representational Activities” for members by just $193,000. In addition, dozens of union staff and operatives earned over $100,000, far more than the classroom teachers whose mandatory dues and fees pay their way.
In the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 6,500 Minnesota teachers already chose to opt out of paying full union dues, a five percent increase over the prior year. Currently public employees who opt out pay so-called “fair share” fees amounting to 85 percent of union dues.
The majority of classroom teachers have never voted in an election for exclusive representation by a union.
Education Minnesota has undertaken a campaign to pressure teachers statewide to sign a union card that automatically renews, unless educators opt out during a one-week window from September 24-30.
“Informed and empowered teachers are better suited to serve the needs of students and deserve the freedom to choose who represents them and how,” Crockett said.
Educated Teachers MN will reach out to tens of thousands of Minnesota public school teachers over the next several months, offering assistance to educators who are considering opting out of the state teachers’ union.