Thursday, November 09, 2006

The WEA Union Dues Lawsuit

If you click on the “Read here for more” link at the bottom of this post you’ll find the full text of a front-page article from the October 4th issue of Education Week talking about the WEA case going before the Supreme Court. It’s good reading. Great reading is the work that has been done over at a blog called 5/17 which I wish I had discovered much earlier, because he’s an excellent writer doing a great job of getting to the ins-and-outs of the laws and numbers involved. He’s over in my “great blogs” section now; I recommend him highly!

While poking around his blog I found a link to an article at Human Events online talking about the Supreme Court case, and it’s a great example of an anti-union attack piece. The byline tells you that Tracey Bailey was the 1993 teacher of the year; what the article fails to mention:

  1. The group that Mr. Bailey now works for, the Association of American Educators, is the parent group of the Northwest Professional Educators.
  2. The NWPE is the favored union alternative (see page 10!) of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF). Oh, they can deny it, but it's inarguable that the two groups have goals that often dovetail.
  3. The EFF initiated the complaint that lead to the current case and has been on the WEA's case for years.

It’s clear, then, that Mr. Bailey has a stake in the argument beyond being just a teacher making a comment. Then again, looking around Human Events Online shows that they’re the sort of arch-conservatives who wouldn’t like unions anyway.

I made a comment in the Biggest Stories in Education today post that I wasn’t totally sure the WEA should win the lawsuit, and was called on it in the comments section. Based on the law I think it’s clear they should; it’s not nearly as hard to become an agency fee payer as the EFF would have you believe.

My only complaint is that the WEA might be too efficient in what they do. They get results which benefit teachers, but there are way too many teachers out there who take it for granted. To those who would lambast the WEA for spending their money mainly on democratic candidates I would ask this: where the hell do you expect them to spend the money? Here in Spokane, for example, there was a contested State House race between Brad Benson, the Republican incumbent, and Chris Marr, the democratic challenger. Benson hates public education by any measure—should the WEA and WEA-PAC have supported him, just to appear fair?

And to those conservative teachers who drop out because of the support of progressive candidates I would ask this: are you doing what you do because of reasons related to education, or other things? If you look in the WEA-PAC voter’s guide (I did!) you won’t find any mention of abortion, capital punishment, the war in Iraq, or anything else. It’s about the education and only the education, so what’s the problem?

In short, I think the good that this might do is to make some teachers sit up and take notice, break them out of their comfort zone. I think that'd make us all better in the long run.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just curious. This union stuff is sort of new to me.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that there is now an alternative to unions in the State of Washington, in the form of the Northwest Professional Educators. I have no affiliation with them. You say they are "arch conservative," but I know of quite a few teachers who are members who are huge supporters of public education but who do not support the unions.

What is your beef with the Northwest Professional Educators, if any?

Thanks for clarifying.

9:49 PM  
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5:13 AM  

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