More than one-third of teachers would prefer to negotiate salary and benefits for themselves, according to a national survey by the Teacher Freedom project. The survey asked 2,000 teachers in the 22 states most impacted by Janus v. AFSCME, including Minnesota, for their thoughts on contract negotiations and benefits, unions, and union dues.
Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “As a teacher, I would appreciate the opportunity to negotiate salary and benefits for myself.” The results are interesting.
- 35 percent of teachers would prefer to negotiate salary and benefits for themselves
- 50 percent of younger and less wealthy teachers would prefer to negotiate salary and benefits for themselves
- Teachers over 35 years old, identify as Democrat, and with a total family income above $100,000 are the least likely to want to negotiate their own contract
Teachers do not have the opportunity to negotiate their salary and benefits, despite a desire to do so. While the Janus v. AFSCME case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer ruled that teachers do not have to financially support a union if they choose not to, it did not impact collective bargaining. Unions are required to negotiate wages, benefits, hours and working conditions with employers, and all employees—regardless of union membership status—are covered by the union contract. The union is the exclusive representative of all employees in the bargaining unit and must represent all employees in good faith.
As one teacher shared with EducatedTeachersMN, this doesn’t keep those who exercise this choice from being lambasted as “free riders” and told they “better give up the collective bargaining services, too, because they aren’t paying for them.”
But unions have created the “free rider” problem they complain about, and they refuse to do anything about it. Because teachers’ unions fought for, and won, the exclusive right to be the bargaining agent for both members and nonmembers, teachers are stuck with the union’s representation whether they want it or not. The union refuses to give up this power as the exclusive representative and prevents teachers who want to negotiate their own contract from doing so because it is not allowed under current law.
The one-size-fits-all contract negotiated by the union does not consider the individual needs of those it represents, and teachers are ready for a change.