Education Minnesota Members, do you have your October issue of the Minnesota Educator?
Each year Education Minnesota charges member teachers and education support professionals (ESPs) $25.00 for its political action committee or “PAC.” PAC money is spent on political parties, candidates and other political funds. According to a recent filing, Education Minnesota raised $2,287,240 in PAC money between January 1 and September 18, 2018.
There is also a $5 charge for the union’s Educational Foundation for grants to teachers, donations to which are apparently not tax deductible, bringing the forced funding to $30.
If a teacher or ESP wants to get a $30 refund to protect his or her constitutional right not to fund the union’s PAC and other spending, it is not an easy process. You have to file two separate forms (one for the PAC, one for the Foundation) and the refund must be requested every single year. Like you do not already have enough paperwork and deadlines!
(If you are NOT a member because you were agency fee payer, this does not apply to you. But be sure to share it with your colleagues or friends who are or were union members. Teachers who resigned from membership following the Janus decision should submit a request for a refund in 2018 only.)
The Education Minnesota union card treats the deductions for the PAC and the Foundation as part of union dues, but it does not offer teachers or ESPs the right to “opt-out” of the deductions once and for all. It also requires members to request forms if they do not have the October issue of the union magazine. “NO PHOTOCOPIES ALLOWED.” You cannot even ask your local rep or a colleague to give you a blank form.
The request forms are available only in the October issue of the Minnesota Educator (pages 13 and 8) or “upon limited request” (see “Hotline” transcript below).
If you are a “continuing member,” you must submit your refund request by October 31. If you are a “new member,” then you must ask within 30 days of signing the card. Did you keep a copy or note the date?
Here is a recording from the Education Minnesota Refund Request Hotline:
Education Minnesota Refund Request Hotline Message (Length 1:22) You have reached the Education Minnesota refund request hotline. The refund request forms for the political action committee and the Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning appear in the October issue of the Minnesota Educator. This issue should be mailed to your home between the last week of September and the first week of October. To qualify for the refund, you must be an active member of Education Minnesota….
If you do not have the October magazine, here is what you must do to get that $30 refund:
Only one set of forms may be requested per individual. You may not request multiple forms to be sent to you or request forms for others. Photocopies will not be accepted. These forms will not be available to Education Minnesota to mail out to you until the first week of October in the current school year. If you are calling to request copies please leave your name, including spelling, complete address, and the forms you wish to have sent. These forms will be mailed the first week of October. This date also applies to new members starting at the beginning of the school year. The forms must be mailed back to Education Minnesota postmarked by October 31st. You can expect your refund check to be mailed by November 30th.
If you join Education Minnesota mid-year, you have 30 days from the day you signed your membership to request the forms. Please state the date you signed your membership application on this message. Once you have received your refund forms, please submit within 30 days. Thank you.
Did you follow all that?
All for $30? What if a teacher or ESP did not get the magazine? Or a new teacher has never heard about this? Why do you have to request a form? What if you are a new member and do not know the date you signed your union card? (We suggest you ignore that and send the form in this month.)
WHAT IS WRONG WITH PHOTOCOPIES? And why would the union not just let members handle this online (the form and submission)?
Could the union make this refund process any more aggravating? Or any more obvious that they do not want members to get a refund?
On a serious note, this requirement is disrespectful of members and imposes an unreasonable burden on the constitutional right of teachers and ESPs not to fund a union PAC. Thirty dollars ($30) is not a lot of money but it is a matter of principle, and often more than people spend on politics. It should, in any event, be a matter of choice.
Virtually all the PAC funds are expended on one political party (Democrat), its candidates and related groups, some of which are very controversial. But even if the union split the money with Republicans, it would still be wrong.
Many teachers and ESPs who choose to join the union, do not want to fund the PAC. Maybe they want to give to the Green Party, the GOP or no party at all.
The solution is simple: The legislature should require the union to collect PAC and Foundation money in a separate transaction from the union card each year. That way, everyone’s rights are respected and protected. Educated Teachers will ask the new governor and legislature to fix the problem in 2019.
Why should the burden be on busy teachers and ESPs?