In most American public schools, teacher union bosses have almost unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded school mailboxes, e-mail systems, meeting rooms, bulletin boards, and printing services, which they use to distribute Big Labor propaganda.
At the same time, union officials and school boards who cave in to their pressure routinely deny teachers who oppose forced unionism any access to such channels of communication.
And both federal and state courts have repeatedly found that, under state laws authorizing union monopoly bargaining in government agencies, public schools are in fact “one-party states” that may bar the distribution of information by the “wrong” groups.
A scathing recent report by Joy Pullman, managing editor of the School Reform News and a research fellow in education policy at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, documents how teacher union bosses use their extraordinary legal privileges in states that authorize or tolerate union monopoly bargaining in public education to bully independent-minded teachers. To obtain a PDF copy, click the link above.
Pullman properly emphasizes how school officials who are compelled to recognize a union as their teachers’ monopoly-bargaining agent on matters concerning their pay, benefits, and working conditions are often desperate to do anything to avoid displeasing the union brass, even if that means they have to trample the legitimate rights of teachers who don’t want a union. She cites, for example, the experiences of Garry Sigle, executive director of the Kansas affiliate of the pro-Right to Work Association of American Educators (AAE):
Many superintendents and principals in Kansas will not even let Garry Sigle give teachers information about his nonunion teacher organization. One superintendent told Sigle, “Why would I want to [let you talk to teachers in my district] if I knew that would create an issue between me and a union I have to negotiate with?” Sigle said. He asked the superintendent how many of his district’s teachers were in the NEA. Thirty or 40 percent, the superintendent said. So Sigle asked to speak to the others. The superintendent wouldn’t allow Sigle to speak to even [union nonmembers]. In one school, Sigle had an appointment to speak at a teacher in-service. “When the local NEA found out, they raised such a ruckus that [the principal] had to call and cancel me.”
A reasonable reading of the U.S. Constitution would indicate that, if school districts grant access to taxpayer-funded school facilities to teacher associations that favor forced unionism, equal access must also be granted to teacher associations that oppose forced unionism. And, regardless of what the courts require, school districts should treat teachers as genuine professionals who are intelligent and motivated enough to make their own decisions. When teachers are treated with respect, they do a better job.