IPI launches Leave My Union for public sector
McLean County teachers thinking about opting out of their union following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court last summer have options to help them do so. A Chicago-based government policy think tank has introduced Leave My Union for teachers and other Illinois public-sector employees who want to explore their options.
Public-sector employees thinking about opting out of paying union dues are not alone. McLean County Times recently published stories about two area elementary school employees who recently decided to opt out.
"I opted out because I am retiring in a year and our current contract goes for two more years," an elementary school office worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told McLean County Times. “I also don't share the same political view as the union and don't want my money supporting their candidates."
The other now-former union member, a second-grade teacher, said her opt-out decision was triggered by what she saw as a lack of fair treatment in which she "witnessed the union protecting unfit teachers who would have been fired if they had been in any other job." This teacher, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, described to McLean County Times the behavior she said 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."
The two school employees in the McLean County Times stories may be part of a larger trend in falling union membership in Illinois. The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), based in Chicago, reported earlier this week that almost 7 percent of employees represented by Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) are no longer paying union dues or fees.
Citing IFT's reporting documents filed with the U.S. Department of Labor in March, the IPI report said the union collected dues and fees from 94,229 in 2018. That figure is now thousands fewer from the previous year.
Last summer the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus vs. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that government employees cannot be forced to pay compulsory union dues and fees. Before that decision, public school employees who were not union members were deemed “agency fee payers” and had to pay fees to the union. Members had to pay dues.
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