Teachers unions appear destined to move further left after Janus

In Janus vs. AFSCME, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in favor of Mark Janus, a government worker in Illinois.

In the ruling, the Court restored First Amendment rights for Janus and all public sector workers. No longer will public sector employees be required to fund political agendas they disagree with. You can enjoy freedom of speech and association, even if you work for the government.

In addition, the way government unions will extract fees from members has changed. The union will now need public sector employees to “affirmatively consent,” or opt-in to pay dues, rather than being required to opt-out, something that unions often made very difficult.

The full impact of Janus on unions will be determined in the future. It is almost guaranteed that they will lose members, and therefore dues, because of the ruling. And by extension, political clout. In “closed-shop” states, those that are not right-to-work, the way the system generally worked was unions helped elect friendly politicians and those same politicians would choose to raise taxes or cut other programs before they would suggest cuts to pay or benefits for government workers. Not exactly a model for fiscal responsibility.

Unions have generally put on a positive front after Janus. But the question has long been, what will they do? Will they moderate in an effort to hold on to members who are not liberal Democrats? After all, only half of all teachers voted for Hillary Clinton. If recent conventions from America’s largest teachers’ unions tell us anything, the problem appears to be that the unions are actually not liberal enough.

The National Education Association (NEA), of which the Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE) is an affiliate, racked up these accomplishments at their recent convention:

  • NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick received the NEA Human and Civil Rights Award. You can view other recipients here.
  • Parkland survivor and anti-gun activist David Hogg shared the stage with NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia.
  • A commitment to promote the Black Lives Matter Week of Action, which includes a mandate that ethnic studies be taught in all grades.
  • Support for all teachers to learn how to properly address students by gender; apparently scientific descriptors like “male and female” or “boy and girl” are no longer acceptable.
  • Support for removing the names of anyone associated with the Confederacy from schools.
  • A call to delay any votes on the pending Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Encouraged teachers to assign readings that “describe and deconstruct the systemic proliferation of a White supremacy culture and its constituent elements of White privilege and institutional racism.”
  • A pledge to oppose support for any business that “refuse services to same-sex couples and/ or LGBT individuals.” Who does that include? Well, the Southern Poverty Law Center will help them identify such businesses.

All business items are available for viewing here.

As for the nation’s other large teachers union, the American Federation for Teachers, they also got in on the fun of letting anyone to the right of Elizabeth Warren know they are not welcomed. Or at the very least, they do not have a voice.

In fact, Warren spoke at the convention. Along with her fellow senator, Bernie Sanders. The only person who could top Warren and Sanders was Hillary Clinton, and she was there as well. Among the issues AFT is demanding:

  • Single-payer healthcare for all. (A new study showed this would cost taxpayers $32 trillion over the next decade.)
  • Free college for all.
  • Universal, full-day, free child care for all.
  • Doubling per-pupil expenditures for low-income K-12 districts (emphasis on districts, not students).
  • Taxing the rich…even more.

This is a crucial time for all government unions, including teachers unions. But they have made it perfectly clear what they are all about;and who is welcomed in their camps. Teachers unions may sounds nice because we all know teachers and we have all been impacted by teachers, but there is a world of difference between what teachers are doing in the classroom and what is coming out of the headquarters of AFT or NEA.

Not only do teachers unions stand against every student-centered education reform measure, they are fully aligned with far left ideology, whether it has anything to do with education or not.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court has spoken and individuals no longer have to pay for and be part of speech they disagree with as a condition of employment.

Brett Kittredge

Brett Kittredge is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Mississippi Center for Public Policy.