A telephone and email campaign in Minnesota and other Midwest states is aimed at teachers, encouraging them to drop out of their union. It’s thought to be the result of a Supreme Court decision last month that struck down laws in many states, including Minnesota, that allow unions to negotiate teacher contracts, and in return collect a “fair share” fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining.
Teachers in Minnesota and Michigan report receiving phone calls from a telemarketing campaign known as “My Pay, My Say.” Education Minnesota President Denise Specht is confident teachers won’t be intimidated, and won’t quit their unions.
“These are the people who don’t want to see educators making any more money,” says Specht. “They want to privatize public education; they don’t want us going to the Capitol speaking up against vouchers or for smaller class sizes. It’s to take away workers’ voice.”
The “My Pay, My Say” campaign is organized by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. A spokesperson for the group acknowledges it’s targeting public employees across the country – including teachers, police and firefighters, and city and county workers – through email, social media and meetings.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus versus AFSCME case means non-union members no longer have to pay for union representation in collective bargaining, and must “opt-in” to pay fees rather than “opt-out.”
Specht sees the court decision as an assault on the working class, and thinks it runs counter to the point of union representation.
“Working together and having that collective helps us have better results, protect public education, and help us be better professionals along the way,” says Specht.
Typical teacher union fees can run about $1,000 per year, and are automatically deducted from paychecks. Those who opt to pay only the “fair share” fees can save about $200, but the Janus decision means those who opt out fully can pocket more.