Michigan Considers Teacher-Empowering Payroll Reform, Like Colorado Did in 2008

Business Week features a brief story about a piece of legislation under consideration in the Michigan legislature:

A proposal that would prohibit public schools from automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks is advancing in the Michigan Legislature.

The Republican-led House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee approved the measure Tuesday with a party line 4-2 vote. The measure advances to the House floor.

An email blast from the Education Action Group Foundation explains how this sort of proposal can help make unions more accountable to the members they serve:

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September ‘Tis Season for Colo. School Employees Who Want to Opt Out of Union Dues or Fees

September is here. In Colorado schools across the state are back in session. As I wrote a year ago today:

But today also marks the beginning of the short time frame in which union members in several school districts can choose to opt out of a year’s worth of union dues (and in a few cases — as our recent video about Colorado teachers unions pointed out — for non-union members to opt out of paying hundreds of dollars in union fees).

Speaking of the video, here it is for those who haven’t seen it before:

For teachers union members who want to stop paying the dues and perhaps find an alternative membership option, here are the 20 Colorado school districts with opt-out deadlines in September:

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New Phi Delta Kappa Poll Makes Case for Teacher Membership Alternatives

Update, 8/23: The new PDK poll isn’t alone in making the case for teacher alternatives. PACE membership director Tim Farmer makes a great case that “professional associations are the future of teaching” today on the Ed News Colorado blog.

The state of American public opinion on teachers and their unions, as reported in the recent Phi Delta Kappa / Gallup poll, suggests a strong value to giving our public educators not only professional membership alternatives (which Colorado law allows) but also the information to help them make wise and suitable choices (one of the main reasons for this website). A new release from the Association of American Educators explains:

Results of New Poll Confirm Need for Non-Union Teacher Organizations

Alexandria, VA — A survey released last week by Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup indicates that Americans overwhelming support teachers, but not teachers’ unions. Among the survey results 71% of respondents said that they have trust and confidence in America’s teachers. However, when asked about the teacher unions, 47% say they believe the unions have hurt education, compared to only 26% believing the unions have helped education. While the findings are nothing new to the growing number of teachers disenfranchised with their unions, it appears that the public has begun to draw a distinction between teachers, as individual professionals, and the actions of the teachers unions.

AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner commented on the national poll today, releasing the following statement:

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National Educ. Assoc. Doubles Fee on All Member Teachers, Funds “Progressive” Media Group

Teachers and other education employees who belong to a union affiliated with the Colorado Education Association automatically contribute a portion of their dues to the NEA headquarters in Washington, D.C. ($166 per full-time member in 2010-11). As the Education Intelligence Agency reports in the latest edition of the Communique, it looks like that figure is going up again for the coming school year:

Beginning this year, NEA will collect a $20 special assessment from each active (meaning, working) member – up from $10 in previous years. In accordance with the union’s bylaws, only 60 percent of the roughly $40 million raised is directed to the [Ballot Measures/Legislative Crises] fund. The other 40 percent goes into the union’s Media Campaign Fund.

Though mutually supportive, the Media Campaign Fund money is disbursed to NEA state affiliates through a separate application process from the BMLC fund. However, while almost all of the BMLC fund is sent to state affiliates, only 20 percent of the Media Campaign Fund leaves Washington, DC. The remainder is kept by NEA for national media projects, as well as distribution to a handful of media partners.

Unless NEA is cutting back its dues appropriations to other areas — highly unlikely — that means at least a $10 increase for teachers this year. As the Communique reports, some of that money goes to Media Matters for America, which describes itself as a:

progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Do Colorado teachers believe that is the best use of their dues money — which for many CEA/NEA members totals more than $750 a year?

From ACORN to Working America: AFT Spends $2.6 Million in 2009-10 Dues on Advocacy Groups

Most teachers union members in Colorado are affiliated with the National Education Association, but a smaller (though significant) number belong to the American Federation of Teachers. Some of that AFT dues money goes to national headquarters. How is some of that money spent?

Well, union organizations under federal oversight annually have to post a financial disclosure to the U.S. Department of Labor. This week Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency has posted his digestible summary that “reveals the national union contributed $2.6 million to advocacy groups and charities” in 2009-10. Of the nearly 70 groups Antonucci lists here’s an alphabetically-sorted sample:

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