Thursday, October 27, 2005

How teachers union hurt teachers and institutions.

Teachers' unoins are taking big chunks of money out of teahers' paycheck to fight the Governor Schwarzeneggers reform plans. A great article appears in the Heartland Institute's magazine School Reform News

Class-Action Lawsuit Pending Against California Teacher Union
U.S. District Court allows union to use forced dues increase for political lobbying
Written By: Karla Dial
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: November 1, 2005
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

While a class-action lawsuit against the California Teachers Association (CTA) was pending, a U.S. District Court judge on October 6 refused to temporarily freeze funds the union seized from teachers statewide without due process in order to fight Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and several measures on the November 8 special-election ballot.

Since September 30, the CTA has been automatically collecting an additional $60 a year in dues from all 335,000 teachers and college professors statewide. Six teachers, represented by the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, filed a class-action lawsuit against the union in late August, citing a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson) that says all union members must be notified of how their forced union dues are spent and be given a chance to prevent their money being spent for purposes other than collective bargaining.

Lead plaintiff Judy Liegmann, a fifth-grade teacher from Sunnyvale, said she found out about the three-year increase in late June from the CTA representative at her school. The union never formally notified her or told her of her constitutionally guaranteed options.

"Assessing dues for political purposes without asking permission [from members] ahead of time is very strange," Liegmann said. "That's money that has to do with our convictions. The union has done nothing to let teachers know they voted in an arbitrary way to dip into every teacher's paycheck to fight a political battle whether the teachers liked it or not."

Money Already Spent

In a sworn statement, CTA accountant Carlos Moreno revealed September 30 that the CTA already has spent on political activities the $60 million that will be raised by the forced dues increase. At press time, the union was seeking an additional $40 million loan from a bank.

While the U.S Supreme Court precedent boded well for the class-action lawsuit, Justin Hakes, a spokesman for the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, said the October 6 ruling violated teachers' consciences.

"The whole point of [seeking to freeze the funds] was that once the election is over, the money's been spent, and you can't undo the results of the election," he said. "Once someone's conscience has been violated, you can't undo that."

The CTA did not return calls seeking comment.

The teachers have been doing a great job of destroying the public education system now they are trying to mess up a Catholic School in Michigan. The below article appears in School Reform News
If Catholic school teachers want to unionize we would prefer they go to the public schools and not mess up the better performing Catholic school system.

Court: State Can't Force Catholic School to Unionize

Written By: Neal McCluskey
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: November 1, 2005
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) is deciding whether to appeal an August ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals that held a state labor relations commission could not force a Roman Catholic high school to permit its teachers to unionize. This marks the latest twist in a two-year battle between Brother Rice High School in Birmingham, several of its teachers, and the MEA.

The case began in July 2003, when 30 of Brother Rice's 42 teachers requested that the school permit the faculty to vote on whether to join the MEA, the state affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). The school refused, arguing that permitting its teachers to join the MEA, which sends a portion of all dues it collects to the NEA, would conflict with Roman Catholic teachings. The Catholic Church opposes legalized abortion, for instance, while the NEA has cosponsored pro-abortion marches.

After Brother Rice rejected the teachers' request, the MEA petitioned the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) to force the school to let the vote proceed. In August 2004, MERC ruled against Brother Rice, finding the Michigan Labor Relations and Mediation Act required the school to permit the unionization vote.

Brother Rice appealed MERC's ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which on August 16 overturned the commission's decision, declaring MERC did not have jurisdiction over the matter and that government infringement on a parochial school's labor relations raises "substantial First Amendment concerns." The ruling was consistent with National Labor Relations Board v. Catholic Bishops of Chicago, a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court found federal involvement in labor disputes involving religious organizations violates the religious freedom provisions of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

Balancing Act

Patrick Gillen, an attorney for the Christian Brothers Institute of Michigan--Brother Rice's parent organization--was pleased with the appeals court's ruling. He told the Detroit Free Press on August 17 the "delicate balance" between keeping a Catholic school affordable and treating its teachers fairly "should be struck by the school community without any interference from the state."

MEA Communications Director Margaret Trimer-Hartley said the union has not yet decided whether it will appeal the court's ruling. Likely important to that decision will be whether the MEA thinks an entity like MERC or the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will ever constitutionally be able to command a religious school to accept a unionized faculty.

Such a command was recently upheld at the post-secondary level. On August 30--just two weeks after the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned MERC's decision--the NLRB ordered Presbyterian-founded Carroll College in Milwaukee to allow its faculty to organize under the United Auto Workers. The NLRB rejected Carroll's argument that a unionized faculty would compromise the school's religious mission.

However, that decision did not necessarily bode ill for schools with clear religious affiliations. The NLRB found Carroll's connection with the Presbyterian Church had become very weak over time, with Presbyterians neither owning nor running the school today.

Ongoing Challenges

Justin Hakes, director of legal information for the National Right to Work Foundation in Springfield, Virginia, does not think efforts to unionize religious schools are near an end.

"Though the August ruling signifies a victory both for religious independence and teacher freedom in Michigan," Hakes said, "union officials will continue to target teachers as they hungrily pursue new sources of forced union dues revenues."

The MEA's Trimer-Hartley, in response to a question about future efforts to organize religious schools, suggested Hakes might be right in predicting continued union involvement.

"[Though] we have not actively sought members in religious schools, and we don't see this decision as changing that strategy," Trimer-Hartley said, "our organizing strategy is to answer the phone and respond to requests to hold elections. We will likely still answer the phone and judge each request individually."

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