Freedom Foundation

WEA insists on representing nonmembers

Union messaging is very contradictory since the US Supreme Court took away their ability to force people to pay them.

On the one hand, they say the ruling is the tragic destruction of unions and soon public employees will be working 60 hours a week for slave wages. On the other hand, they suggest that everyone absolutely adores unions and would happily continue paying ever-increasing dues forever even if they had a choice.

Now their story has another new twist.

They complain loudly about the burden of representing people who do not want to pay. But out of the other side of their mouth they say nobody should ever be allowed to work without the union’s services.

This is most clearly illustrated by a vote of the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) “Representative Assembly” this year.

A naïve member of the assembly from the North Thurston school district assumed that the union’s concerns about working for those who decline to join was true. He offered a new business item inviting the immense lobbying power of the union to address the problem of free riders. In his resolution he asked the WEA to:

“…consider legislative changes to RCW 41.59 that would result in local associations having no legal obligation to represent non-members beyond contract negotiations.”

The body voted to strike down this reasonable idea to solve the terrible injustice WEA claims the Supreme Court inflicted on unions. The unmentioned secret is that the union industry designed the laws to give them domination over all in a bargaining unit, and they like it that way.

Similarly, the Washington State Legislature considered legislation to free the WEA and other public employee unions from the burden of representing nonmembers. The chairman of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee, a former WEA local union president, refused to even schedule a hearing.

Unions WANT to keep everyone in a workplace under their thumb – even nonmembers.

The government has given the union enterprise a monopoly on speaking for and assisting workers based upon arbitrarily defined “bargaining units.” If a worker tries to bring his or her own attorney to a workplace discipline hearing, the union attorneys will block them. If a worker feels the lock-step group contract results in lower pay they are powerless to do anything about it.

Union myth: all benefit equally.

A lie hiding in the union’s current complaint about “free riders” is that they pretend that all benefit. While some clearly do benefit, some do not. Some even have their interests harmed by the monopoly representation practice.

Young teachers are poorly served by WEA.

  • Dues for the lowest-paid teachers are more than 2.5 percent of their salary, but dues for the highest paid can be 1 percent of salary. Dues for most unions are a simple 1.5 percent of salary.
  • When the state of Washington gave starting teachers an increase, WEA sued the state to block this raise.
  • When negotiating the agreements, the senior-dominated bargaining teams give smaller gains, lower stipend rates and sometimes even divert base salaries from newer teachers.
  • Union contracts regularly make certain that young teachers are laid off as the first line of budget cuts regardless of their quality or specialization.

Specialists are poorly served by WEA. Nurses, special education professionals, Information Technology specialists, and others with unique skills and training are lumped into relatively uniform pay scales. These pay rates can even be lower than districts pay private contractors filling these critical shortage areas in schools.

Excellent teachers with a creative, ambitious side are also poorly served. The union goal of lock-step employee contracts refuses variation for those who want to arrange employment terms allowing them to be rewarded or to try new approaches.

The union has captured all kinds of workers, and pretends that nobody is harmed by this forced lock-step arrangement.

Union myth: better service is impossible.

Even for those who want to be members, the union has no standards of quality service.

A week does not go by that the Freedom Foundation does not receive a call from someone who is frustrated by the lack of service they receive from the union. The law does not expect much and certainly does not expect quality in return for the government union representation franchise.

As long as the union representative shows up for a modest amount of bargaining, they have met their obligation. The union is the voice of the bargaining unit, and they do not even have a legal obligation to accurately reflect what employees want.

When an employee faces bad treatment from their employer, the union has discretion about what—if anything—to do on that person’s behalf.

Unions are not subject to consumer protection laws, they are unregulated regarding members rights, and they do not even have to tell members how they spend money.

Union myth: the price is right.

Even if the union is working hard, is the price for the service correct?  Some who call notice that after paying more than $1,000 per year, they’ve paid enough to hire their own lawyer for help on their workplace issues. From their perspective, the help they receive falls short.

The 11,000 teachers in Clark County Nevada recognized that the NEA and the Nevada State Education Association added cost to the union dues without adding value, so they voted to disaffiliate and keep dues at their local association only.

Reality: it is about power and cash flow.

Dues collection and power are the goals of WEA. Individual choice and competition are antithetical to their goal, so they refuse to let anyone enjoy freedom. Instead, they will browbeat and call teachers names who don’t believe the union mythology of “shared benefits.”