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Why Oregon Teachers' Union Has Lost 20 Percent of Its Membership

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

If there’s one public sector union whose support has dipped over the past couple of years, it must be teachers’ unions. It seems these people are the most petulant and belligerent of the bunch, who kept kids out of the classroom over COVID and now wonder how math and reading scores regressed to their worst levels in two decades. It’s because remote learning didn’t work, which again, everyone and their mother, but these teachers, knew from the get-go. When it was time to return to the classroom, as students started committing suicide due to the lack of social interaction and isolation, teachers dug in, demanding a litany of items to ensure their safety from a virus with a 99 percent survival rate. 


Parents had enough of their antics, which reached a boiling point where some localities put teachers at the top of the list for vaccinations when the first COVID shots became available. These teachers skipped the line, got vaccinated, and then still refused to go to work. Upon hearing complaints from parents for their lethargic pace towards reopening, teachers’ unions said they were being selfish. Teachers already got three months off before the pandemic and wanted to remain on permanent vacation. Meanwhile, the top leaders for these unions, who unsurprisingly are staunch allies of the Democratic Party, were busted for colluding with the CDC to keep children out of school due to the COVID pandemic.

So, in Oregon, are we shocked that teachers’ union membership has plummeted some 20 percent recently? Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Jason Dudash said no autopsy is needed to explain the collapse. These union officials only need to look in the mirror to see what’s wrong. Many teachers are devoted to their job, passionate, and want to teach—I know a shocking development. The union upper crust is getting in the way of that: 

Nearly one in five teachers have now broken ranks with OEA. In just three years, OEA’s membership rate has dropped from 85.6 percent to 81.2.

These numbers do not reflect the additional 600 Oregon teachers the Freedom Foundation has directly helped leave the OEA since April, when the union’s numbers were reported. 

All told, the union’s active membership has dropped below 80 percent. 

“If OEA wants to blame someone for those defections, its leaders need only look in the mirror,” said Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Jason Dudash. “Our teacher outreach has been increasingly successful, but the arrogance of the unions themselves was a big help.” 

Until 2018, Oregon was one of 23 states without right-to-work protections for government workers, meaning teachers and thousands of other public employees were required to financially support union activities. 

“Teachers want to teach,” said Dudash. “They’re embarrassed that their students are falling further and further behind every year in the educational basics they need because unions and the politicians they’ve corrupted want to turn our classrooms into indoctrination centers. 

“Teachers are realizing their unions support policies that are actively harming the students and profession they love,” Dudash continued. 


With the spike in other nonsense in the classroom, like critical race theory, overly-graphic sexual education lessons that go beyond simple biological lectures, and this out-of-control trend of some schools hiding students’ gender identity from their parents and doling out puberty blockers, I could see a lot of parents, and some teachers, considering either working for or sending their kids to private school.

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