More than 80,000 teachers have resigned their union membership in the past two years.
I’m one of them.
My story started out much the same as many other school employees who found themselves at odds with the teachers’ union. In June 2021, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) released a legislative position statement urging opposition to Senate Bill 618, which would prohibit Pennsylvania schools from requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to access buildings or receive services.
I was appalled that the PSEA presumed to speak on behalf of me and its 178,000 members on such an impactful and personal issue without even asking how we felt. How could a union that happily collects my hard-earned money every month issue a statement in my name with which I vehemently disagreed?
Shortly thereafter, the National Education Association (NEA) pledged to push critical race theory (CRT) through the entire nation’s public school system. The union also pledged to oppose any attempts at banning CRT and/or the 1619 Project.
The NEA’s political posturing made me realize I could no longer be complacent about funding these organizations. I researched my options and began the process of resigning my union membership and discontinuing dues deductions from my paycheck.
The start of the 2021-22 school year in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania was extremely tumultuous to say the least.
Many school districts in the state voted to allow exemptions so employees wouldn’t be forced to wear a mask while in school. Within the first week of school starting, however, PSEA President Rich Askey issued an email ordering all union members to wear a mask in school regardless of their district mask policy.
The email instructed colleagues to tell on each other and included threats of legal consequences, including jail time:
"This is an order, and all PSEA members in school buildings must follow it. While not all PSEA members may agree with this order, it is extremely important for all members to understand that it is an order, not a suggestion or a guideline. That means that all PSEA members must follow this order and wear masks in school buildings.
"If members don’t follow the order, they could face legal consequences. Any person violating the order can, for each offense, be convicted of a summary offense and sentenced to pay fines or face jail time if fines are not paid.
"For members who don’t comply with the order, a person who knows they have violated the order can file a complaint with the Professional Standards and Practices Commission."
This threatening directive solidified my decision to leave the teachers’ union and liberate myself from such untruths, bullying and manipulation. It also fueled my motivation to educate others about their rights and options regarding the union. With the help of the Freedom Foundation, I resigned my union membership, stopped having dues deducted from my paychecks, and stopped funding this political agenda I didn’t support.
As the school year progressed, and with proper permission, I embarked on a campaign to make sure my colleagues knew they wouldn’t lose their jobs if they dropped their union membership. There were alternatives to the union that provided resources and liability insurance – the big sword union leaders hold over teachers’ heads – at a lower cost because they don’t spend any money on politics.
Within a matter of days of posting such information in staff areas, the local union sent out an email to members that contained lies about me and ordered members to deface and pull down any flyers that I put up.
It was clear the unions were desperate to suppress and remove any facts that might inform teachers about their rights, going so far as to slander a teacher within their own district.
Since then, I’ve spoken with a growing number of people in the education system all across the country and have learned an overwhelming amount of information about how the teachers’ union is running this money-laundering system to blatantly fund its pet candidates and causes in order to push extreme leftist agenda items into the education system.
We now have emails proving the teachers’ unions played a major role in keeping schools shut down much longer than necessary during the pandemic, resulting in as-yet-untold learning loss and trauma for kids.
As a teacher who just wants to do what I love – educating America’s young people – I find the lack of transparency and integrity by teachers’ union leaders to be embarrassing and shameful. They instill fear and pressure and misinform their members so they can continue to rake in millions of dollars.
I’ve since founded a website for educators across the country, Union Choice for School Workers, that provides resourceful information about teachers’ union politics and finances, alternative organizations for liability insurance and continuing education, the facts about how the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME finally ended forced union membership for public-sector employees across the country, and how to leave their union membership behind.
Fellow teachers have compared union membership to being in an abusive relationship. They want to leave and are not happy, but are fearful of the backlash and isolation that may come with it.
I will continue to help empower people with knowledge so they can have the courage to make their own truly informed decisions about the teachers’ union and what is best for them.