By Victor Skinner
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers think the state’s teachers unions should be forced to collect dues money and political contributions on their own.
That’s why they’re moving forward with legislation that would end automatic payroll deductions for teachers.
State Rep. Jeff Thompson, a retired high school teacher, introduced a bill Wednesday to prevent public schools from deducting union dues or political contributions from employee paychecks, likening the current practice to lawmakers soliciting political donations using statehouse phones, the Associated Press reports.
“Even though it costs the state nothing, it’s wrong for me to collect contributions using the statehouse property,” Thompson told the news service. “It’s just not the way it should be done, is it?”
He’s right. There is no justifiable reason for any public employer to collect money on behalf of a private organization, particularly one so deeply involved in partisan politics.
Many teachers and other public employees are unaware that a portion of the automatic union deductions fund radically liberal political candidates and causes they may not support. Teachers unions go out of their way to make it difficult for members to opt out of deductions that are used for political purposes.
Allowing teachers to send in their dues gives each of them an opportunity to consider their union’s actions over the prior year, and decide whether they want to continue their support.
From what we can tell, the legislation simply treats teachers like adults who should be responsible for paying their own bills.
But union officials know that without the current automatic deduction scheme fewer teachers will support their organization. Many teachers will realize they have a choice about union membership and decide not to mail in their dues payments.
In the end, the legislation will help ensure that union officials are accountable to their members, or their members won’t be members anymore. It’s as simple as that.
Thompson’s bill passed out of the House Education Committee this week. Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce support the legislation, while the state teachers unions, of course, hate the measure.
“This is being done, in my opinion, to do nothing but stifle their representative voice …,” Indiana Federation of Teachers President Rick Muir told the AP.
We think it’s quite the opposite. Teachers who have a choice about paying dues will have much more of a voice in union affairs.