As I watched the testimony regarding HB 418, I saw many pieces of misinformation spread by the unions. To take matters further than my previous opinion piece, I wanted to write this to specifically address the misinformation I heard during committee testimony.
1. Only Unions are Unions!
Seems common sense. But unions are trying to confuse people on who is or isn’t a union in an attempt to create chaos. When an organization is designated as a union, it is an federal, IRS designation. Unions are 501c5s. Business groups and business chambers are not unions, they are 501c6 organizations. Charitable and educational groups, like A+PEL and the United Way, are 501c3 organizations. Even the Louisiana sheriff’s association is a 501c6 and is not a union. Paycheck protection only deals with unions, who are using the payroll deduction system to gather money for national political purposes without knowledge or consent of the average member.
Basically, the union brand is so toxic, that union leaders are trying to attach it to organizations that they do not like!
2. Union members do not necessarily have a choice, even in a RTW state.
I addressed this in my previous op-ed, but allow me to go into more specific detail. There are two issues of choice here. In collective bargaining parishes and parishes with strong union control, the unions are the only ones allowed to provide benefits to teachers. For example, A+PEL, which is designed as a charitable organization that offsets the high costs of unions, cannot offer benefits to the teachers of Vermillion parish. We are not allowed to make presentations at gatherings of teachers. We are not allowed to have our materials and flyers on school grounds. So the choice for a teacher in Vermillion. So the option for a Vermillion parish teacher is to join the union for benefits or not have them. Furthermore, in other areas, unions even have separate additional benefits such as pension funds that further pressure people into joining. When you have a monopoly, there isn’t a choice.
Also, the political activity and donations of unions are not decided by the membership. As Representative Seabaugh pointed out during testimony, the vast majority of union dues go to democratic candidates, against the voting records of their members. For example, St. Tammany parish has collective bargaining in their school district, are those union members deciding who gets the union donations on a local, state, and national level?
Would anyone, regardless of political persuasion, want their dues paid in Louisiana to go to a national political initiative or staff?
Yet according to some union officials themselves in a recent article in The Advocate, only about 30 percent of dues stay local.
The only “choice” in regards to a union are the choices made by union executives for their members.
3. Unions make it difficult for members to leave
During the testimony last week, this refrain from the unionists bothered me the most. Every week our organization has to assist at least one teacher with leaving their union. We actually had to make a specific legal document called a “Union Drop form” to give to teachers. So many times, if a teacher just calls or emails, they remain on the union roster. In some districts, we have to send the union drop form to BOTH the school district AND the state union office. When teachers are paying dues in the 400 or 500 dollar range, when other options are below $200, unions are going to make it difficult to leave, even in a RTW state.
I hope this counters some of the misinformation spread regarding paycheck protection efforts. These efforts represent a good government initiative to protect the rights and choices of all citizens.
Keith Courville is the Executive Director of Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana.