IP-5-2004 (February 2004)
Author: Ben DeGrow
Colorado school districts reroute many thousands of taxpayers’ dollars into the hands of the teachers’ unions every year, by granting paid release time for representatives to attend union activities and by financing union presidents and other officers to take extended leave from regular duties. This funding is done primarily through collective bargaining agreements but also through school board policies and administrative practices.
Release time for union activities may include attending local union meetings or workshops, negotiating bargaining agreements, or sending representatives to the Colorado Education Association Delegate Assembly. Many school districts agree to pay a certain number of days per school year for their teachers to participate in these activities. The union either repays the district for the much lower cost of a substitute teacher or pays nothing at all.
A separate but related subsidy to the union involves paid leave for union officers. This practice includes granting extended leave to local union presidents (and another local officer, in two cases). In most districts where this occurs, the district pays the released teacher’s regular salary while the union reimburses a significantly smaller amount to the district. Some union presidents, who are performing full-time labor advocacy, receive advancement on the salary schedule as if they had taught in the classroom. Also, several districts have agreed to pay their teachers for days of service as officers in the state or national union.
Policymakers should eliminate these subsidies, forbidding school districts from:
- providing employees paid release time from regularly contracted duties to attend union activities. For each day used by an employee for union purposes, the union should compensate the district in full at the employee’s daily pay rate, or the district should deduct the day from the employee’s accu-mulated personal leave.
- paying any employee for release time from regularly contracted duties to serve or hold office in any union. For each day used by an employee for union purposes, the union should compensate the district in full at the employee’s daily pay rate, or the district should deduct the day from the employee’s accumulated personal leave.
- releasing any employee from regularly contracted duties to serve or hold office in any union for more than one school year. During any such time, the union should pay the full cost of the salary and benefits of such employees.
- granting formal experience credit to any employee released from regularly contracted duties to serve or hold office in any union for one-half contract year or longer.