June 27 (New York) — Teacher-led organization Educators for Excellence (E4E) released the following statements about today’s Janus v. AFSCME decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which bars unions from charging compulsory fees used to negotiate critical job matters like fair pay, access to health care and retirement benefits.
"This decision presents a major membership and revenue challenge for unions across the country,” said E4E-Los Angeles member Christina Kim, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher and member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles’ House of Representatives. “I plan to stick with my union, and more importantly, encourage my colleagues to become more involved like I have. But our unions have to understand that to retain members we will need to become more accessible, more transparent and ensure all members feel they are being heard and well represented.”
“We are disappointed in this decision,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators for Excellence. “We believe teachers unions play a critically important role, and the vast majority of teachers believe they are essential or important. We also know, based on survey data we recently released, that nearly three-quarters of union teachers believe their unions’ policy decisions are not greatly aligned with their own policy preferences. To retain members long-term and remain strong, unions will need to better connect with their members and ensure their policy positions and priorities reflect the beliefs of their diverse memberships. In light of this ruling teachers need to recommit to their unions, and unions need to recommit to their members by becoming even more democratic, diverse and student-focused.”
A ground-breaking, nationally representative survey written for teachers, by teachers, Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America’s Educators captures crucial insight on the views and opinions of educators across the country on a wide variety of issues impacting their students and their profession. On May 23, E4E previewed results relating to the Janus case and to teachers’ thoughts about unions more generally in anticipation of the Court’s decision. The full survey results will be released on Aug.1.
Key union findings:
- Teachers largely regard their unions as essential:
- Eighty-five percent of all teachers regard unions as essential or important, which includes 74 percent of teachers who are non-union members. For current union members, a full 94 percent find the union to be essential.
- Without collective bargaining or a union, 86 percent of teachers believe the working conditions and salaries of teachers would be much worse, which is a nine percentage point increase since Education Sector’s 2012 Trending Toward Reform survey that asked this same question.
- Yet, most union teachers believe their unions’ policy decisions are not greatly aligned with their own policy preferences:
- Despite being the primary agent for teachers in policy decisions, 52 percent said their union represents their perspective only somewhat, while another 20 percent said that it did not very much or did not at all.
- And, unions are currently engaging only approximately half of their members:
- Although they feel the unions are important, teachers’ engagement is relatively low with only about half of union members reporting that they voted in a union election (53 percent), spoke to a union representative (51 percent) or attended a union meeting (51 percent) in the past year.
- Unions will face membership and revenue challenges now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Janus:
- When asked if they would be likely to actively opt in to their union if they were not automatically enrolled, 82 percent said they would be likely to do so.
- But for non-union members currently paying fair-share fees, six out of 10 would be likely to opt out of paying any fees.
For more details on the results, visit e4e.org/teachersurvey.