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The Decline and Fall of the American Teachers Unions

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

When I started out in education, the teachers union reps would tell me, “We are here to protect you.” However, what I learned on the job—and after leaving the profession altogether—is that unions protect unions, not the individual workers, and definitely not the kids. In many states, first-year teachers pay the union dues, even if they do not formally join the union, but get no protection. The classic phrase among veteran teachers is “you can be fired for the cut of your hair.” As for the core interests of these public sector legal mobs, teachers’ union strikes have erupted all over the country, disrupting education for their students, betraying a sinister political agenda to help Democrats going into Election 2018. In school districts across the country, rank politicization has become commonplace. For example, In Laguna Beach, CA, teachers allowed students to beat a Trump piñata


These unions are worse for the students since they hide behind the eternal banner of “We care for the kids”, yet they go to notorious lengths to protect their worst members while refusing to benefit their best. Project Veritas recently published incredible undercover footage of teachers union leaders not only admitting to their professional cover-ups, but also the routine lies they trot out to protect their members at all costs. Listen to Dr. Dave Perry detail the steps he would take to “bend the truth” for a supposed teacher who had hit then threatened a student in a New Jersey middle school. Another New Jersey teacher admitted to protecting a teacher who had had sex with a student. This perversity isn’t isolated to the Eastern seaboard in deeply Democratic, urban enclaves. Steve Wentz, President of the United Teachers of Witchita, Kansas, admitted to hitting, abusing, and threatening kids. Incredibly, schools insist on asserting in loco parentis authority as guardians for these children.

One would think that the press would look out for us. While local alternative newspapers have taken incredible steps to research and expose bad teachers (LA Weekly, for example), other newspapers shrug off the exposure and even attack James O’Keefe for his undercover efforts. Consider this passage in the Trentontian over the Dave Perry debacle:


The undercover news organization, which has its own reputation problems and is led by muckraker James O’Keefe, released a damning video on Wednesday of Hamilton Township Education Association President Dave Perry explaining to one of Project Veritas’ operatives what lengths he would go to protect his members.

First, according to the Trentonian, O’Keefe is a “muckraker." This inadvertently serves as a badge of honor, notwithstanding the article’s sinister intentions. The article then slams Project Veritas as a dubious organization, then practically covers for the cover-up, not noting the crimes perpetrated by union members. Where has the press been all these decades, anyway? Shouldn’t they, as the Fourth Estate of our constitutional republic, have kept an eye on these government unions? No one should be surprised, however, that corporate media, in lock step with liberal agenda, has rarely tampered with the Democratic Party’s largest donors.

Thankfully, the empire of American teachers unions is on the wane. First, there’s the federal court system. Friedrichs vs. CA ended in a sad 4-4 stalemate with the death of Justice Scalia. This short yet devastating judicial setback to end coerced dues from individual employees has given way to a more likely victory this year with Janus v. AFSCMEThat case asks the fundamental question should a public sector employee be forced to pay dues to a union, even if they have not and do not want to join?  Public sector unions and their fawning press are predicting the worst.


Despite legal inertia in the court system, states have already enacted comprehensive collective bargaining reforms (Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa). Now in blue states, a bitter fight has broken out over how left-wing the unions have—and should—become. Public sector unions have ditched Dianne Feinstein for hard-left, open-borders state senator Kevin De Leon in California’s upcoming US Senate race. In New York State, the Workers Rights Party has frayed inexorably, further straining an already contentious primary fight for incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will be facing “Sex and the City” alumna Cynthia Nixon. The infighting shows the decreasing power of top union leaders over their own members, many who are chafing under the cronyism and inattention of their leaders.

One overlooked story in Las Vegas shows how even before the final decision is rendered for Janus,  teachers are already rebelling against their unions. In an unprecedented move, the Clark County Education Association broke away from the Nevada and National Education Association. The 20,000 member union, the largest in the state, voted to break away over high union dues and disagreement with leadership’s political goals and endorsements. The Nevada Education Association is losing money as well as political influence, especially in a crucial swing state for 2018 and 2020.


The Silver State is a right-to-work state, but public-sector unions have retained their power notwithstanding, until now. What precipitated this break-up besides the excessive union dues? Much like the split creating a fractious Democratic primary in the New York Governor’s race, the Nevada teachers’ union fallout likely follows from the political upheaval during the Bernie-Hillary Presidential primary, which devolved into unethical, illegal delegate shenanigans during the Nevada Democratic Party convention in 2016 (Check out this video for the political chaos which ensued).

Despite the media and Big Labor’s best efforts, teachers union membership is in decline. Unions are squandering their diminished political capital for wage increases at the cost of their purported mission to care for students—and all coinciding with a contentious political year. Smaller unions are breaking away from the larger union fold. The Janus case will deliver the final blow if the ruling goes as intended with Justice Gorsuch casting the deciding vote against public sector forced unionism and coerced dues.

A half-century ago, teachers unions had a place in the American public. Now they have forgotten their place, going from protectors of innocent teachers to enablers of greed and malfeasance. Their political demise in civil society is welcome and timely.


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