Union Abuses Force Pennsylvania Teachers to Speak Out

Did you know teachers’ unions can force many teachers in Pennsylvania to pay dues or a “fair share fee” that’s taken directly out of teachers’ paychecks? What’s more, this withholding of fair share fees, union dues, and even union political contributions is done at taxpayers’ expense, and the teachers have no choice.

Today, teachers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh are coming together to voice their opposition to unfair teachers’ union practices. 

“They see teachers as cash cows,” says Julie, a teacher in the Central Dauphin School District. 

This practice has been going on for years in many school districts, while other teachers find themselves newly forced into paying hundreds of dollars for something they don’t want. 

Keith, a teacher in the Conewago Valley School District, expressed his frustration with the current system: “We are forced by our union to pay a private organization to keep our jobs. To me, it is basically extortion, pay this private entity or lose your job.”

Julie, Keith, and other teachers across the state oppose union leaders using them to line their own pockets and push their own political agendas. Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation and a former high school history teacher, commented:

“We would never think of forcing workers to fund private political organizations like the NRA or Planned Parenthood. But tens of thousands of teachers across Pennsylvania are required to pay into union coffers while watching union leaders finance a political agenda they oppose. Taxpayer resources should not be used for any political purposes under any circumstances.”

What political purposes? Here’s a brief sample:

In 2012, the state’s main government unions, the largest of which is the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), spent nearly $5 million of member dues on political activities and lobbying. These expenditures do not require the approval of members and often advocate for policies counter to teachers’ own beliefs.

  • The June/July 2013 edition of the PSEA Voice featured this four-page, politically-charged ad.
  • Earlier this year, Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a non-profit financed by the Service Employees International Union, released this political television ad ripping the governor.
  • During the Philadelphia schools funding crisis the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers released this video ad criticizing Mayor Nutter.
  • Earlier this year, the United Food and Commercial Workers union used union dues to pay for this video ad making false claims about liquor privatization

Teachers are taking a bold stand and telling the stories of the harm these unfair practices are causing. The Commonwealth Foundation stands with these teachers in their quest for fairness and the freedom to make their own decisions with their hard-earned money.

To learn more about the government unions’ unfair political privilege, see our Policy Points here.