Elementary school teacher cites unfair treatment as reason she left union
For one McLean County second-grade teacher, deciding to opt out of the union was a matter of what she considered lack of fair treatment.
“I opted out because I witnessed the union protecting unfit teachers who would have been fired if they had been in any other job,” the teacher told McLean County Times on the condition of anonymity.
This teacher was describing behavior she observed in her elementary school and as a former member of the Schedule B Unit Five Education Association.
“The union president spent an incredible amount of time with the teacher across from me who was unable to improve her job performance or be on time, yet spent all of her breaks trying to keep her job by talking to the union and fighting her evaluation,” the source said. “She was moved to a different school instead of being terminated after poor evaluations.”
Last summer, the right to opt out of the union – and to avoid paying agency fees for non-members – became a reality upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus vs. AFSCME decision. The court ruled that the decades-long practice of deducting fees from non-union-members’ paychecks to cover collective bargaining was unconstitutional.
The Illinois Policy Institute reported last August that hundreds of teachers had exercised their new rights under the ruling and left the union
This teacher told McLean County Times the process to leave the union was a simple one.
“I just had to send a letter to Unit 5 instructing them to stop taking union dues out of my paycheck,” she said.
Although she has seen no retaliation, she did say that upon her leaving, the union president had requested via email that they have a talk.
“I never responded and she never contacted me again,” the teacher said.
Although the court ruled that teachers can opt out and avoid paying fees for collective bargaining the union conducts on their behalf, they still remain covered by any agreements the union negotiates for teachers. This is true for full-time as well as substitute teachers.
For her part, this teacher remains neutral when it comes to advising others on union membership.
“I would never suggest to anyone else to opt out or stay in the union,” she said.