Union leaders getting rich with money taken from members


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NEW YORK — The: New York Post: apparently has heard enough from the city’s teachers union about charter school profits.

The United Federation of Teachers union often points to the fact that some charter school operators earn more than the city’s schools chancellor, with the implication that’s somehow wrong.

“Funny thing,” said a recent Post editorial. “As the United Federation of Teachers’ own spending reports show, at least five UFT executives earn more than the chancellor’s $212,614 base salary; Union president Mike Mulgrew makes $250,000.

“More interesting is that the source of (the union executive) money is force. While everything about charters is voluntary — no one forces children to attend, teachers to teach there or foundations to pay executive salaries — it’s the opposite for the rest of the system,” according to the Post editorial.

The Post explains that UFT dues are automatically deducted from teacher’s paychecks by the city and transferred to the union, allowing Mulgrew to collect his huge salary without the consent of the people paying the dues.

The original source of that money, of course, are school taxpayers, who are also unwittingly forced to fund a union that is not accountable to the public.

Essentially, “taxpayers underwrite public-sector unions that then use their dollars to buy political influence to extract even more money from the public till,” according to the newspaper.

union leaders “It’s a perverse arrangement that denies teachers the power to decide how much their union is worth to them,” the editorial reads. “If we really want to know what they think of their union chiefs, the way to find out would be to remove the automatic dues check-off.”

In numerous states like New York, teachers are forced to join the local union and consent to automatic dues deductions unless they specifically request to opt out. In most cases, employees who opt out of their unions are still required to pay hefty “fair share” fees of up to about 80 percent of full dues.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In Wisconsin, the Post explains, Gov. Scott Walker did away with automatic union membership and dues deductions, giving teachers the freedom to determine whether they wanted to maintain their union memberships.

Thousands fled their unions as soon as Walker’s reforms took effect, to the point that the state’s largest teachers union was forced to lay off about 30 percent of its staff. Walker also required unions to recertify each year, with 50 percent of members voting to stay in the union as the threshold necessary to continue collective bargaining.

Wisconsin wasn’t the first state to free teachers from their union’s clutches, and other states that have enacted similar measures have witnessed the same phenomenon. Clearly, there are many union members, particularly those working in the public sector, that don’t feel like they’re getting their money’s worth for their dues. Some are free to find something better, but in states like New York they remain hostages to organizations like the UFT.

“New York’s teachers deserve the same freedom,” according to the Post. “If the UFT is as good as it claims, Mike Mulgrew shouldn’t have any trouble getting members to voluntarily fork over the dues he needs to pay his high salary.”

This post was used with the permission of Joe for America.

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