Ethical issues prompt teacher to drop out of Naperville union
For one member of the Naperville Unit Education Association, the ability to opt out once the U.S. Supreme Court made the choice possible couldn’t come soon enough.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the instructor told the Kendall County Times that notes to opt out were sent to the school district and union representatives the same day the Janus v. AFCSME decision was handed down.
“I’m Catholic and conservative, so I’m not pro-abortion,” the teacher said. “The bottom line is it [the union] is a political organization, not a collective bargaining unit. And I’m not interested in being a part of it.”
This teacher had been a fair share member for nearly two decades, which means they didn’t actually join the union per se, but still had the so-called agency fees deducted from each paycheck. Charging non-members for collective bargaining activity was the exact practice the Janus decision banned.
“The union is a professional organization that works to make sure employees are treated fairly, that the membership is stable, and for that I’m on board,” the teacher said. “But the reality is that the teachers union is a branch of one political party. There were years when the union spent more money on PACs and political activity supporting candidates and elections than they did on member benefits.”
Since this instructor opted out last summer as soon as the Supreme Court announced its Janus decision, they have faced no backlash or repercussion. And the process to opt out was simple enough, they said.
However, during their years as a fair share member, this teacher said the union often obstructed the choice to divert funds to an alternative charity more in line with the teacher's personal political beliefs.
“You have to name a charity you donate money to,” the teacher said. “They would never give me the criteria for the charity. I would suggest something and they would say no. I’d suggest another one, and they’d say no. I would ask what is the criteria, and they would say we don’t have to give you any criteria, we have veto power over it.”
As a friend and co-worker of many staunch union supporters, this instructor often saw the lines blurred between representing teachers and supporting causes.
Some are “liberal political activists – they have a very difficult time distinguishing their political activism from what’s best for the membership, like working conditions,” the teacher said.
Two of the causes this teacher saw the union support were same-sex marriage and abortion. The teacher said the leadership was often caught up in advancing their social agenda.
“Regardless of what you think of those issues, they have nothing to do with our employment,” the teacher explained. “I have no problem with anybody who has an agenda, but I do have a problem with them taking my money without me making that contribution."
The Illinois Policy Institute has created Leave My Union for other public sector employees looking to opt out of their unions.
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