Joe Connolly is a public high school guidance counselor in central Pennsylvania. His school district recently introduced “fair share fees” for non-union workers—meaning educators like Joe will now be forced to pay into the teachers union, or lose his job. Below are his thoughts on forced unionism. This post originally appeared at FreeToTeach.org.
I have worked as a high school guidance counselor in an Adams County school district for the past 14 years. The job is a blessing in that it provides a decent income and adequate time off to spend with my family. I am thankful for that.
The most recent contract negotiations have ushered “fair share” into my district. I find it troubling that the term “fair share” indicates that I have been a freeloader for the past 14 years and I will now be forced to join and/or contribute to three unions. Why is the baseline assumption that all public school employees should join the union or be forced to do so through tactics such as “fair share” agreements? What if the baseline assumption was that public school employees were capable of making an informed choice on their own?
Could it be that unions are facing dwindling membership numbers? I suspect that the effects of the economic malaise of the past few years have hit unions just like the rest of us. Further, their massive overhead and bloated salaries add to the importance of making cuts and collecting ever increasing dues.
I question why I cannot join the local union without joining PSEA and NEA. Could it be that if this were an option, the money flowing into the coffers of PSEA and NEA would quickly dry up as many teachers are facing a tightening budget in their own homes and must make some of the same tough choices of all who are suffering from the prolonged economic downturn?
Perhaps I am too much of a cynic for postulating that forced unionism is one of the side effects of a lagging economy. I suspect that I will receive responses to the posting of this article aimed at “re-educating” me. But, at the end of the day, I am tired of sitting on the sidelines and ignoring this trend towards less individual choice and freedom.