Auto-deduction of dues contract language adds to perception issue

Auto-deduction of dues contract language adds to perception issue

© Paynich

© Paynich

I wrote in this previous post that I feel teacher union membership and dues should be voluntary and that the auto-deduction of union dues from teacher salaries gives me the perception that the district is paying the union to negotiate contracts.

I also find it unfair that even when teachers opt out of union membership, they still are forced to pay through auto-deduction the near equivalent of union dues 60-70% of the whole dues as an “agency fee” for the collective bargaining services.

John Thompson references me in one of this TWIE posts and claims that I don’t know contract law and claims that I am only targeting teachers unions over political issues.

Paynich is unaware of both contract law and the ways that police, firefighters, and others negotiate common sense arrangements for collecting dues for unions and professional organizations. She incorrectly claims that, “Every other entity on the planet has to collect monies on their own, and unions should not get the unfair advantage of ease of payment.”

Paynich inexplicably writes, “I see it as taxpayer dollars going directly into the hands of unions with little or no say or control from the teachers unions are supposed to be protecting.” According to her reality-free appraisal of these contracts, “This seems like the LEA is paying the union to negotiate the contract with the LEA.”

Thompson claims that I’m singling out teachers unions. Maybe right now, but only because I haven’t had reason yet to analyze the others. Here is the beginnings of evaluation of fire services in RI, my home state, where there appears to be gross overages of equipment and personnel along with up side down pension liabilities.

And while I was looking at the Lawrence teachers contract for this post, I found this language:



The Union may secure authorization of payroll deductions for Union dues. Such authorization may be receivable as provided by law. The Union may also secure authorization of payroll deductions for a union COPE (Committee on Political Education) fund. In both instances, the Committee will request the Treasurer of the City of Lawrence to submit such sums in total to the Union Treasurer.



As a condition of employment, members of the bargaining unit who are not members in good standing of the Lawrence Teachers’ Union, shall pay to the Lawrence Teachers’ Union an agency service fee equal to the amount required to become a member and remain a member in good standing in the Union. Such fee shall be considered commensurate with the cost of collective bargaining and contract administration. This provision is subject to any rules and regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations.

The Committee will request the Treasurer of the City of Lawrence to submit such sums in total to the union treasurer? Sure, there is accounting going on to count it towards each teacher, but it just looks so much like tax payers are quite literally paying the union to negotiate for the teachers. From the perspective of perception, teacher’s aren’t paying these dues. But they should be – voluntarily.


This rhetoric is taking us in the wrong direction

This rhetoric is taking us in the wrong direction

A few months ago John Thompson wrote a tweet to me that was really offensive.

hatred of unionsContrary to what some think, especially, John Thompson I do not hate unions.

First, all I said was that I quit a job at a grocery store because I didn’t want to be in the union. And Thompson twists that into a “deeply rooted hatred” of unions. I simply did not want to pay the union fee, didn’t see the benefit. I already have and pay for a safety net, it’s called taxes and the city/state/federal government.

Did he fail to read this post where I talked about how I used to be blindly in support of teachers unions? Until I took a public policy class and realized often times teachers unions get in the way of teacher progress?

How does that read as a “deeply rooted hatred” of unions?

I don’t hate unions – I just don’t think they are helping advance education when they stand in the way of reform our kids desperately need. Or when they:

– Have 600 staffers nationally making 6 figure salaries on the backs of teachers

Secretly influence elections in the millions of dollars on the backs of teachers

– Do whatever their political agenda is without regard for teacher’s real interests

– Michigan Education Association pulling all sorts of antics to keep union members even if it means ruining teachers in the process

Teachers Union puts up smoke screen while they deny workers their rightsMEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachersYou believe every lie your union tells you, don’t you?Union in Taylor, MI tried to circumvent right-to-work law and lost

Tout the union line, even when they KNOW it’s hurting kids

– Advertise that they are working for great public schools for all students when the reality is that teachers are their client, not students

Withhold union member benefits when teachers disagree with union political strategy and choose not to make the political contribution in their union dues

Force teachers to pay union dues through payroll deductions making it almost impossible to opt out

Charge non-union members pretty much the exact same fee as voluntary union members and call it an agency fee for contract and negotiations work

Thompson – you know what I DO hate?

People who abuse people and animals, people who think not all kids can learn, people who participate in the child sex trade……must I go on?

This type of rhetoric is what is stalling progress – just like how anti-reformers harass pro-reformers at levels that are really unnecessary as noted in this post.

I think unions had a place and a time, but especially with teachers, the time has come to evolve or move on. Many of the protections unions offer are now part of employment law that every other citizen benefits from.

I am in complete support of district union collaboration – when it leads to a better education for all students – such as this post: School take over plan that is working – Lawrence, MA

Response to John Thompson via TWIE

© Paynich

© Paynich

John Thompson just used one of his weekly posting slots on Alexander Russo’s This Week in Education blog to take on my issue with teachers auto deducting dues.

Here is my response:

I think that teachers are quite capable of paying their own union dues at their own will. Other states like MI have laws allowing that and look at all the ways that the MI unions handle those situations.

Union in Taylor, MI tried to circumvent right-to-work law and lost
MEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachers

Teachers Union puts up smoke screen while they deny workers their rights

Then there is a CBA fee issue. Unions claim there is a free-rider problem. A free-rider problem? Because workers benefit from the union’s contract negotiations and don’t have to pay. Someone PLEASE enlighten me about how the “collective bargaining fee” is calculated. If you are negotiating on behalf of 100 or 10,000 teachers do you really do more work? Free-rider problem, what a bunch of absolute baloney!

Honestly, I think teacher can and should negotiate their own salaries.

John says I don’t know contract law? Yes I understand there are laws – but that does not make them right!

Notice John didn’t support the assertion that teachers should have their dues auto deducted. He didn’t make a case for why unions should have direct access to the money hose. It’s just all semantics.

The point is that unions have very easy access to money that they spend frivolously on $500,000+ union head payrolls and 600 positions paid at in the six figures. Most teachers can’t get near a 6 six figure salary. Then there is the question about how the unions use that money for political purposes of which teachers may not agree. Unions take stances that teachers paying the dues may disagree with. But there is little way out of the dues.

In these two cases in CA (one & two) teachers are suing over the payment of the dues for political reasons. The first case:

Rebecca Friedrichs, the case’s lead plaintiff, says she decided to take legal action because she felt she had no other options and was “very seriously considering” leaving teaching. A teacher for more than 25 years, Friedrichs says she has opted out of paying a politically directed portion of union dues for most of her career. She became a full member for several years to try to affect change from the inside while serving as a union representative.

“They didn’t want to hear what I had to say,” Friedrichs says. “It just came to the point where I felt totally helpless and hopeless.”

In California, teachers can opt out of paying the roughly 30 to 40 percent of dues devoted to political lobbying, but they can’t opt out of dues used for collective bargaining issues. In total, California teachers pay as much as $1,000 annually in union dues, the plaintiffs say. They also argue it’s particularly difficult to opt out of paying the politically directed dues because they must first pay the dues and then apply for a refund each year. Many teachers, they say, contribute hundreds of dollars to political activities they disagree with because the opt-out process is too complex.

John T. knows this is about teachers union money and NOT about what teacher care about. I wonder what payroll John T. is on.

© Paynich

© Paynich

How do anti-reformers blatantly ignore success?

Joel Klein’s new book, “Lessons of Hope: How to Fix our Schools” is on my holiday gift request list so I have not read it yet. However, after reading two opposing book reviews I am more at a loss than ever.

How is it possible that two different people have these two views of the same book?

Here is a segment from

Upon Klein’s departure in 2010, scholars from Harvard, the University of Virginia, and Research Alliance for New York City Schools weighed in on Klein’s tenure. They concluded that his reforms had significantly improved teacher quality in high-poverty schools, and had significantly improved student academic performance compared with a control group of students elsewhere in the state.

The benefit of distance makes results under Klein look even more impressive. Within the past month, two rigorous, gold standard studies showed that Klein’s controversial decisions to close failing schools and experiment with new approaches delivered gains in poor kids’ college enrollment and compensation for individual teachers.

Here is a segment from John Thompson:

In perhaps the most inexplicable passage in his book, Klein cites Anthony Bryk’s finding that school improvement requires trusting relationships. Because each person or group involved in school improvement is dependent on the actions of the others, Bryk explained that teachers, principals, parents, students and administrators must work together and build trust in each other. How that principle is compatible with Klein’s brass-knuckled approach is beyond me.

… Inevitably, Klein’s accountability system would reward some schools merely because they did well with the lucky hand they were dealt. Others would be punished for low performance and further damaged because bureaucrats were incapable of recognizing the full set of challenges that they faced.

My question as a public citizen and a person looking to advance education to ensure every student has a quality education is – Did Klein’s strategy work? Dmitri gave specific examples as to where Klein’s practices worked and John performed a literal research report on Klein’s book but didn’t tell me anything about the results (or even lackthereof) of Klein’s approach.

John also seemed to glaze over these tidbits that were certainly impactful for me, as I saw absolutely no mention of the havoc that union-sponsored behavior takes on school, teachers, parents, students & the public.

From Dmitri’s post:

Klein experienced bureaucratic inertia early in his career, when he taught sixth grade mathematics in Queens. Klein asked for permission to work with the students’ parents after school to help them understand what their children were learning. The response back was: “If you do it, the parents will expect the other teachers to do it, and they won’t want to, so they will resent you.”

This same deadening impulse met Klein decades later when he became Chancellor in New York. As he recalls, “The guiding principle was that rules, rather than trust, were the best way to run a school.” On his first day, Klein asked about a light on his phone. A secretary from the previous administration answered: “Oh, ignore that. It’s just an angry parent. If we leave it on hold long enough she’ll go away.”

Schools in poor neighborhoods did poorly under this regime. They suffered thousands of violent crimes, atrocious dropout rates, and decrepit buildings with major plumbing problems.

More, unspeakable truth from Dmitri’s post:

Wealthy New Yorkers asked for specific student, teacher, and principal placements, and reacted with rage when Klein demurred. For example, Klein met early in his tenure with three principals from the East Side (where Fariña had served as a principal).

These principals told Klein that the worst thing he had done was “sent us excessed teachers from another school.” When Klein responded that the contract required him to give those teachers jobs, the principals said: “In the past, we never got the excessed teachers, because everyone knew our community wouldn’t tolerate them.” Klein asked whose kids deserved those teachers, and the principals answered: “That’s your problem. Just don’t send them to us.”