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Back to Aug. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 223 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS AUGUST 2004

Alternatives to NEA Gain Force
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Non-union teacher associations are eroding the clout of the NEA, attracting at least 250,000 members in 18 states with lower dues, a less-confrontational attitude toward school boards, and fewer social pronouncements than the NEA. Meanwhile, NEA membership and revenue have flattened. In Texas, Missouri, Georgia and perhaps Mississippi, non-union association members now outnumber those in the NEA.

In states with collective-bargaining laws for public employees, teachers must either join a union or pay the union "agency fees" for services, so that as a practical matter there is no alternative to the union. But in the approximately 20 states without such collective-bargaining laws, state legislatures or local school boards typically set teacher salaries, so teachers increasingly have the option of joining non-union professional associations. Many of these associations do not endorse political candidates or take positions on non-educational issues, in contrast to the NEA.

An exception is the non-union Missouri State Teachers Association, which was instrumental in stopping a 1999 union-backed bill in the state legislature allowing collective bargaining for public employees. The bill would have empowered the NEA affiliate in most districts to bargain for all teachers, and thus threatened the role of the non-union association. Since then, the association has taken sides in state legislative races. (Wall Street Journal, 2-28-04)


 
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