As the U.S. Supreme Court rightfully acknowledged in its landmark ruling in Janus v. AFSCME (2018), an individual’s constitutional right to choose whether to associate with a labor union is an integral component of his or her freedom of speech in the workplace.
In Ohio and elsewhere, that’s the central message brought to public employees by the Freedom Foundation. And thanks to the power of information — along with a website that makes it easy for employees to take the power back — they now have a voice about whether a one-size-fits-all union approach is right for them.
Even before Janus, a number of teachers and school employees in the Buckeye State had made it clear that Big Labor’s statewide and national bureaucracy isn’t in their best interest. For Ohio teachers represented by the top-heavy National Education Association (NEA) union dues are nearly $800 dollars per year — but at most, only $32.50 remains with their local association.
The inherent lack of accountability from distant union leaders has led some teachers to disaffiliate from their parent union.
Just outside of Cincinnati teachers at the Indian Hill School District disaffiliated from the Ohio Education Association (OEA) in 2014 and formed their own local-only association.
Since that time, the district has one of the top-ranked high schools in the nation.
Across the state, in the suburbs of Cleveland, teachers at Shaker Heights School District did the same — and the resulting independent teachers’ association just awarded its lifetime achievement award to the man who led the movement to ditch the OEA/NEA.
In nearby South Euclid, Ohio, another independent teachers’ association appears to be thriving without the added union bureaucracy. According to the association’s website, “(N)egotiations have been conducted in a professional manner and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Teachers Association has never been on strike.”
And all the way over in Western Ohio, teachers in the St. Henry School District also rid themselves of the OEA/NEA nearly 10 years ago.
Why? Simply put: “(T)o get back to the basics of education.”
Such positive experiences fly in the face of the scare tactics Big Labor would often have employees believe. At the time of the Indian Hill disaffiliation, for instance, OEA leaders distributed predictions about what might happen if the teachers chose to shed the OEA/NEA label. And yet today, this top-ranked district also ranks among the highest in average teacher salary in Ohio.
The movement away from the old, unaccountable union model clearly isn’t limited to one region. From Cleveland to Cincinnati and all the way over to Western Ohio, teachers throughout the state have recognized that shipping off more than 90 percent of their dues to the OEA and NEA just isn’t a good investment.
And with the Freedom Foundation at the helm of an ongoing campaign in Ohio to inform public employees of their constitutional rights, the trend is likely to pick up.
School employees in Ohio seeking to exercise more control over their voice in the workplace can learn more about their constitutional rights at www.OptOutToday.com. Often, taking back their hard-earned money from unaccountable union leaders is the first step.
While union leaders often take steps to prevent their members from knowing the truth, the Freedom Foundation will continue its work in Ohio to ensure that all public employees are provided accurate information when it comes to union membership, dues payments, and most importantly, their right to associate freely in the workplace.