As far as John Graham (not his real name) is concerned, the California Teachers Association’s unofficial motto should be “By Any Means Necessary — Legal or Not.”
Early this year, the association circulated membership forms and instructed its members to sign the on the dotted line if they wanted to keep their union membership.
Not surprisingly, this wasn’t true.
Graham didn’t want to be in the union anyway, so he declined to sign a membership form and thought he had successfully opted out. And when the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27 recognized public employees’ First Amendment right to not be forced to pay union dues in Janus v. AFSCME, that interpretation was validated.
Months later, however, Graham discovered his union representative had lied to him and that he was considered a full-fledged union member. Consequently, he started the process of opting out but was instructed by his local union leader he had to sign a “Voluntary Termination of Membership Rights and Benefits Form” to make this happen.
The form would expressly waive a long list of Graham’s rights.
At this point, he contacted the Freedom Foundation to see if it was necessary to sign this waiver form. With the help of a Freedom Foundation staff member, he discovered he was not required to waive his rights and that he could print a customized opt-out letter from OptOutToday.com, a Freedom Foundation website created specifically to help public employees navigate the unions’ intentionally complicated opt-out process.
Mr. Graham also replied to his local union leader and challenged the requirement that members sign a waiver form to opt out of union membership. The rep responded that the form is “… still under construction and, to some extent, yes, all Unit Members do have a right to grievance representation…”
The union operative then attempted to obtain Graham’s waiver another way by asking, “Am I correct that with your understanding of grievances and what effect your non-membership may potentially have down the road, that you are freely and voluntarily waiving your other rights and benefits? You can reply with a yes to this email and that’s all we need in order for me to send you your drop instructions.”
The union leader continued with another lie: “So far, you are the only member to drop … Take your time thinking about dropping, as you apparently are the first and only member wanting to drop.
“That’s not a list I would want to be on, for countless reasons.”
Mr. Graham has personal knowledge of fellow union members resigning their membership and was not impressed by his union leader’s blatant lie or by his not-so-veiled threat.
Because of the Freedom Foundation’s help, John Graham didn’t sign away his rights and instead his opt-out form is on its way to his union.