Freedom Foundation

Top-heavy Teachers Union Model Crumbling

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which bans mandatory dues or fees in the public workplace, put government employees back in charge of their unions.

They can now vote with their dollars about whether they appreciate the services, priorities and cost of the representation industry giants that collect dues. Workers can accomplish this in a few minutes at

During the years some states forced workers to buy the unions’ product, they grew politically extreme, sluggish on services and very expensive. In Washington, for example, teachers union dues can be as high as $1,277 a year.

The local bargaining agent carries additional layers of bureaucracy that are progressively harder to justify. Teachers are beginning to wonder whether the meager services provided are worth sending $443 to a bureaucracy in Federal Way and another $192 to a Washington, D.C., bureaucracy?

Short answer — they’re not.

Any union local can take steps to disaffiliate from its parent union, and as serving clients becomes more important, disaffiliations to shed bureaucracy become more likely.

This week, in fact, a union of 1,800 teachers voted to end affiliation with the National Education Association and its Kansas affiliate, Kansas NEA. The Blue Valley Education Association remains the bargaining unit and continues to represent teachers in negotiations with the Blue Valley School District.

Teachers there just voted to stop sending money off to state and national bureaucracies that may never have set foot in a Blue Valley School building.

A similar defection happened a year ago, when more than 11,000 teachers left the NEA in Nevada. At that time, we predicted a worker-empowering ruling in the Janus case would accelerate this practice.

In Washington, some districts have moved away from the WEA/NEA model to a local, independent teachers’ association. This has been done in Waterville, Mary Walker, Mansfield, Sprague, and St. John. We would expect to see this trend continue, and the disaffiliation in Blue Valley School District, Kansas, offers a promising precedent.


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21st century unionism starting in central Washington” Lake Chelan Mirror, May 2017