Your Union Membership Matters

Dear HEA Members,

By now, we’re sure you’ve heard that yesterday the US Supreme Court delivered a blow to organized labor in their ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME. In short, the Court ruled that public employees can “opt out” of being union members BUT still receive the basic protections of the collective bargaining agreement negotiation by the union…all while paying no fees to the union for representation. The term “free rider” is applied here.

What does this mean for you?

In the short term, be prepared to immediately be inundated with emails, mailings, and maybe even phone calls from anti-labor organizations including “Opt Out Washington,” “The Freedom Foundation,” “The Washington Policy Center,” “The Workers Rights Association,” and others to try and pressure you to drop your union membership. These groups have been at the heart of the anti-union movement in Washington. Their goal is not to put money in your pockets. Rather, their goal is the same as other right-to-work-for-less organizations nationwide funded by corporate billionaire interests such as the Koch Brothers: to silence the voice of organized labor. They don’t care about money in your pocket – they only want to deepen theirs by weakening workers’ rights.

You may hear from colleagues in your buildings who opt to resign their union membership because “the union has to defend me anyway.” Please encourage them to consider the ethics of such a decision, as well as the unintended consequences. While “free riders” would still get fair representation under the terms of our contract, resigning from the union would eliminate numerous other benefits and protections that union membership offers. Often it’s difficult to imagine these situations until it’s too late…all it takes is a loss of plan time or duty-free lunch, or a career-ending false accusation from a parent. Several of our members have worked in a right-to-work-for-less state in their careers, and even more probably know someone who has. I would encourage you to ask them about their experiences and how it compares to working in a union-friendly state such as Washington.

Make no mistake, this ruling is an attempt to weaken labor, silence workers, and strip our collective power. It is not about freedom of speech. It is not about keeping money in your pocket. It is about taking more power away from the workers and putting it in the hands of those who already have too much. This ruling is bigger than education. This ruling affects a wide swath of the American middle class, which was built on the backs of union organizing and advocacy.

We’re proud that in Hockinson 100% of our certificated staff are full members of HEA. This speaks strongly to our support for each other and our belief we are stronger together. Over the last few years you have demonstrated your willingness to band together and advocate for each other as one voice. You have joined fellow teachers from across the county and state to take a stand for students, working conditions, and professional educators. We are fortunate that HEA and WEA are strong, united, and in a good position to weather the storm.

Together, despite the growing money and power on the anti-union side of things, we can continue to be a force for positive change in education.

In solidarity,

Corey and Megan

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