Teachers and the Politics of Education Unions

This article shares a perspective on union spending by Pennsylvania public school teacher, John Cress. We share it because it helps to illustrate the dilemma many teachers have who work in public education – teachers dealing with the politics of education unions which often support political agendas in direct contradiction to their personal and Christian values.

John’s statement was clear: “Union Dues Backing Political Groups Prompted My Resignation.” John has been a middle school math and special education teacher for six years. After nearly all that time in the union, he decided last year that he’d had enough of financially supporting an organization that funded abortion groups.

“The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) may claim that dues do not support such ‘politics,’” he says. “True, dues money cannot be used for the direct election of candidates. But that counts only for political action committee (PAC) money.”

In fact, dues can be used for a variety of political and ideological causes apart from political action committees.

According to the NEA’s (of which PSEA is part) disclosure report to the U.S. Department of Labor, $1.15 million in donations went to the AFL/CIO and another $15,333 went to the SEIU, which both donate to Planned Parenthood. In 2012, the PSEA alone reported spending $3.2 million of member dues on “political activities and lobbying.”

“If my dues to the union at the local, state, and national level do not fund political activities, then why is the NEA reporting that these activities are funded? If one follows the money, part of my pay funds abortions. As an adoptive parent, I should not be required to give one fraction of one cent towards abortion and will not be forced into doing so.”

John continues, “There is a difference of approximately 35 percent in being a fair share payer, instead of a full-fledged union member. Obviously, this 35 percent has to go somewhere.”

“Often, I receive e-mails, flyers, and communications from the PSEA telling me who to vote for. The 35 percent difference in dues vs. fair share largely pays for these communications, like an anti-Corbett ad which solicited members to donate directly to PACE. Dues pay for marketing of the union’s political agendas. Another example is the $30,000 that the NEA disclosed was given to the Daily Kos, a very liberal-slanted blog. If I want to donate to a political cause, I can as a free citizen do so and as a teacher have the ability to research these issues independently.”

John summed up his position by stating, “My employment conditions should not include funding groups such as the Daily Kos and Planned Parenthood. I should not have to prostitute my beliefs and values to teach and refuse to do so. This is why I resigned from my union and became a fair share payer.”

John Cress is a Public School Math and Special Education Teacher in Lawrence County, PA. We applaud him and others who stand against union influences that crush individual and religious liberty and bring a corrupt agenda to the education of our children. Renewanation is committed to promoting education that leads to the formation of a Christian worldview.
Used by permission and adapted from an article that first appeared in Free to Teach, a project of the Commonwealth Foundation. The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives is a Pennsylvania free-market think tank advocating for free markets and countering at- tacks on liberty.


This article originally appeared in The RENEWANATION Review, Volume 6 Issue 1. If you would like to become a member and receive a print edition of the magazine, please click here. If you would like to learn about other ways you can get involved, please click here.