(LOS ANGELES) — Glenn Laird is not anti-union. Far from it.
Until recently, Laird had been a proud member of United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) for almost 40 years. He even served for a while as a campus representative and walked a picket line when the union went on strike.
But now he’s the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the union over its refusal to grant his request to opt out of membership and dues deductions.
The case was filed on March 16, 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by the Freedom Foundation, whose lawyers are representing Laird pro bono.
For Laird, the breaking point came when he learned what his union actually stood for — in this case, defunding law enforcement agencies serving the LA School District.
“In the 1980s,” he recalled, “I lost a former student to gun violence on campus. School police were on scene and an officer performed CPR, while another officer pursued the shooter. (The teachers’ union has) an agenda that does not accept that violence happens. And when it does, police are needed.”
Defunding the police was one of several informal conditions UTLA claimed the school district would have to meet before its members would agree to resume in-school instruction. And like the union’s demand that charter schools be abolished, it had nothing whatsoever to do with making teachers safe during the COVID pandemic.
UTLA was simply exploiting the public’s fears about the virus in order to demand concessions it had been unable to win at the bargaining table.
Even at that, however, the union wasn’t asking for better wages, benefits or working conditions. Instead, it had prioritized the radical liberal agenda of its leaders above the legitimate workplace concerns of its members — and was willing to hold the parents hostage until it got what it wanted.
“I couldn’t, in good conscience, be a member and pay dues knowing that my money was supporting an anti-police agenda,” Laird said. “I support fully funding the police to keep our students safe.”
When UTLA floated its demand to defund police, Laird immediately requested to opt out of the union. But his request was denied when UTLA claimed he had signed a membership agreement that limited opt-outs to a two-week annual window.
Only he did not. Instead, he had specifically crossed out that clause of the agreement with a felt pen. But the union kept taking his money anyway.
“We don’t believe the ‘escape window’ would be constitutional under any circumstances,” said Freedom Foundation CEO Aaron Withe. “But it’s even more unenforceable if the worker clearly did not agree to be bound by it in the first place.”
But the larger issue is what the episode signals about UTLA’s priorities.
“Government unions talk a good game,” Withe said, “but cases like this show what’s really important to them. UTLA couldn’t care less about its workers’ welfare or wishes. They’re simply paychecks to be plundered.”
See his story here