Union Dues Backing Political Groups Prompted My Resignation

NOVEMBER 19, 2013 | by JOHN CRESS

This perspective on union spending by Pennsylvania public school teacher John Cress originally appeared at Free to Teach, a project of the Commonwealth Foundation.

I have been a middle school math and special education teacher for six years. After nearly all that time in the union, I decided last year that I’d had enough of financially supporting an organization that funded abortion groups.

The PSEA may claim that dues do not support such “politics.”  True, dues money cannot be used for the direct election of candidates. But that counts only political action committee, or PAC, money that goes to PACE.

In fact, dues can be used for a variety of political and ideological causes apart from political action committees. According to the NEA’s (of which PSEA is part of) disclosure report to the U.S. Department of Labor, $1.15 million in donations went to the AFL/CIO and another $15,333 went to the SEIU, which both donate to Planned Parenthood.

In 2012, the PSEA alone reported spending $3.2 million of member dues on “political activities and lobbying.”

If my dues to the union at the local, state and national level do not fund political activities, then why is the NEA reporting that these activities are funded? If one follows the money, part of my pay funds abortions. As an adoptive parent, I should not be required to give one fraction of one cent towards abortion and will not be forced into doing so.

Also, there is a difference of approximately 35 percent in being a fair share payer, instead of a full-fledged union member. Obviously, this 35 percent has to go somewhere.

Often, I receive e-mails, flyers, and communications from the PSEA telling me who to vote for. The 35 percent difference in dues vs. fair share largely pays for these communications, such as this anti-Corbett ad which solicited members to donate directly to PACE.

Dues indeed pay for marketing the union’s political agendas. One example is the $30,000 that the NEA disclosed was given to the Daily Kos, a very liberal-slanted blog. If I want to donate to a political cause, I can as a free citizen do so and as a teacher have the ability to research these issues independently.

My employment conditions should not include funding groups such as the Daily Kos and Planned Parenthood. I should not have to prostitute my beliefs and values to teach and refuse to do so. This is why I resigned from my union and became a fair share payer.

John Cress
Public School Math and Special Education Teacher
Lawrence County



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