Good News for Students: Teacher Unions Dwindling

We commonly say that teacher unions are for the teachers and not for students, but that’s not completely true. When union rules assign raises and other promotions solely on the basis of seniority and never on the basis of performance, then the unions are for time-serving incompetent teacher and not for young superior teachers. That means that there are reasons that some teachers would be opposed to teacher unions.

Thus, EAG News reports, “TEACHER: Unions losing fight against members, parents, school choice.”

Teacher union membership is dwindling. In fact, it has dipped below 50 percent nationwide, down from a high of almost 70 percent in 1993. Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, having become “right-to-work” (RTW) states over the past several years, have given teacher freedom a big boost.

Wisconsin, which also limits teachers’ collective bargaining activities via Act 10, has seen its National Education Association affiliate’s numbers cut by more than half. Prior to the legislation, the Wisconsin Education Association Council had approximately 100,000 members. It now has fewer than 40,000, according to the MacIiver Institute.

In Michigan, the teachers unions have lost 20 percent of their membership since becoming a RTW state in 2012, but this number will grow. Many unions, sensing the inevitability of RTW legislation in the Wolverine State, signed long-term contracts with their school districts. However, once those contracts expire, more teachers will be liberated from paying forced union dues.

But as Michigan Capitol Confidential’s Tom Gantert points out, the RTW law is just one reason for the drop in union participation. He writes, “There also has been steady growth in the number of Michigan public charter schools. Hardly any charters are unionized.

Nationally, the NEA has also seen its numbers dwindle; its membership is down more than 9 percent over the last four years. This includes a 7.5 percent decline in the number of classroom teachers, which is one reason why the union’s dues revenue has declined since 2011.

There is also an upcoming court case in 2016 that could outlaw forced union dues. In fact, about half of teachers think such dues are wrong. (This is not only good news about declining union influence, but it bodes well for future voter sentiment regarding taxes.)

Meanwhile, an increasing majority favors “school choice.”

Since declining union membership means less money, that also means they can no longer spend as much on campaigns to abolish charter schools or fund other liberal causes.