Audrey Spalding

For example, many union members disagree with the partisan nature of unions and their affiliates: According to exit polls from the 2012 presidential election, 42 percent of union household members voted for the Republican candidate, yet unions gave more than 90 percent of federal contributions to Democrats.

In addition, many educators want to leave their unions because of disagreements over charter schools and merit-based pay, which several unions stubbornly oppose despite their well-documented successes. In fact, a 2013 survey of public school teachers, overseen by the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, found that more than 40 percent support charter schools. (The same survey found that nearly a third believe that teachers’ unions have negative effects on schools.)

Unions could respond to increased worker freedom positively, by working to provide members with better services and taking political stances more in line with members’ views. Unfortunately, many unions, including those in Michigan, have taken the opposite approach, by engaging in verbal attacks, sending bill collectors after teachers and shaming those who choose to leave.

That’s why National Employment Freedom Week and the August Opt Out campaign are so important. They highlight these rights and provide information and support on how to exercise them. And perhaps when more union members learn about their rights and opt out in sufficient numbers, unions will stop trying to restrict members from leaving, and instead begin to focus on convincing them to stay.

Audrey Spalding

Audrey Spalding is the director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.