On Monday, June 24, Teacher Freedom, a group dedicated to informing educators of their rights and opportunities in the realm of organized labor, released the results of a recent study aiming to gauge teacher attitudes toward labor unions and union membership a year after the United States Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision.
Among the study’s most crucial findings is that only one in four of the 1000 teachers surveyed had even heard of the decision at all, though roughly half of all respondents were aware of what the outcome of the case means for their membership status. The survey resulted in a number of additional findings of note, including that the overwhelming majority of teachers had not been contacted about the Janus ruling and its implications.
Decided a year ago as of this coming Thursday, Janus was a significant case in United States labor law as it curtailed the power of public sector unions by declaring unconstitutional the longstanding practice of collecting so-called “agency fees” or “fair share provisions” from union non-members. The Court held that these contributions violated the employees’ First Amendment rights “by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
Because state statutes effectively make Colorado a right to work state for public school teachers, the impact of the Janus ruling has been decidedly less marked here than in other states, but overall the importance of the case cannot be overstated.
In addition to its findings on the Supreme Court case and its implications, the Teacher Freedom study also clearly establishes that many teachers do not understand what the consequences of their leaving a teacher’s union could be, with close to a third of respondents believing erroneously that the terms of agreements negotiated between unions and districts only apply to members. Furthermore, a quarter of the survey’s participants thought that upon leaving their professional association they would cease to be eligible for pay increases negotiated by the union.
Information concerning membership revocation and Colorado alternatives to the CEA and its local affiliates, as well as the current terms of district-union contracts can be found at https://independentteachers.org.