NEW ORLEANS – Do school boards have a moral responsibility to help teachers unions keep their members trapped, year after year?
The Jefferson Parish school board is wrestling with that question right now.
One brave board member clashed with local union officials Monday night, after he proposed a policy that would force all union members to sign to sign a form every year if they want the district to continue deducting union dues from their paychecks, according to a report from Nola.com.
The board member, Michael Delesdernier, claims state law requires union members to give annual permission for dues deductions. He also said his proposed policy would give teachers more power to determine if they want to remain union members or not.
“It empowers teachers to decide when and who they want to join and when they want to leave,” Delesdernier was quoted as saying. “I find it very interesting that of course the people getting the money would be complaining about someone wishing to drop.”
Union leaders strongly protested, claiming Delesdernier was trying to break the union by forcing members to sign the form every year. The implication is that teachers would forget to sign – or perhaps refuse – and therefore wouldn’t have dues deducted.
“The reason behind this is to make it difficult to retain our union members, and I think Mr. Delesdernier wants the union to go away, and we’re not going away,” union President Melanie Munch said.
The proposed policy was sent to the district’s attorney for review.
Munch is basically admitting that if some teachers didn’t have dues automatically deducted, they probably wouldn’t pay them. That begs a simple question – why should they be forced to?
This is America, and nobody should be forced to join any organization, or pay money to any organization, against their will.
Simply checking with teachers every year, to make sure they still want the union to have their money, seems like a very reasonable, pro-teacher policy. If all or most of the teachers appreciate their union and want to maintain their memberships, they would happily sign the form every year and there would be no controversy.
But if a significant number of teachers want out of the union, and the union refuses to set them free, there certainly should be a controversy.
Hats off to Delesdernier for hitting the union right where it hurts – in the pocketbook containing the money that’s forcibly taken from so many unwilling teachers every year.