Happy National Employee Freedom Week! The American Association of Educators (AAE), a freedom-promoting alternative to the National Educator Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), just released its 2015 Workforce & Pension Policy Survey. AAE polled 700 teachers from all 50 states about important issues in education, including labor policy, and found the following:
- 98% of educators surveyed believe teachers should have the right to choose an association that best fits their needs. Missouri teachers do have this freedom. However, while the teacher may benefit from the professional development opportunities and liability insurance their association offers, teachers don’t have a choice as to who represents them during negotiations over salary and benefits.
- 68% of members would prefer to negotiate their own contract. Wouldn’t it be nice if a teacher who works twice as hard as other teachers and increases academic achievement more than other teachers could ask for a raise? This is unheard of in education, where 84 percent of AAE members say collective negotiations do little to recognize excellent teachers. No wonder schools have such a difficult time holding onto great teachers! They can’t reward them appropriately.
- Only 8% of educators surveyed reported ever having participated in a union certification election. That means that an overwhelming majority of teachers surveyed have never had the chance to vote for which union represents them. Can you imagine if you never got the chance to vote for an elected official—state representative, governor, congresswoman—and the elected official stayed in office indefinitely?
Regular union elections ensure that government employees like teachers have the opportunity to vote for the union or professional association that best represents their interests. While education analysts at the Show-Me Institute often advocate for more choice for students, teachers need choice, too. Teachers need the freedom to decide who represents them at the bargaining table. Whether that’s the individual teacher or a preferred association, teachers should have the freedom to choose.