NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teacher Opts Out Of Union Dues

October 6, 1997

With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a California teacher has won the right to resign from her teachers' union and restitution of that part of her dues spent by the union on politics and non-bargaining activities.

  • When teacher Jean Apple tried to resign from the San Diego Teachers Association -- an arm of the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association -- last year, union bosses stopped her.
  • They pointed to a so-called "maintenance of membership" clause in their collective bargaining agreements, a feature designed to stop teachers from resigning at will -- telling her she couldn't resign until mid-1998.
  • Meanwhile, they continued to collect about $200 a year from her for political and non-bargaining purposes.
  • In November, the National Right to Work Foundation filed a federal class action suit against the unions involved -- demanding an end to "maintenance of membership" rules in all contracts, the acceptance of immediate resignations of union membership and a refund of the portion of dues spent on political or non-bargaining activities.

Last month, union lawyers gave in to all her demands.

Apple's supporters note that in case after case, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that teachers can't be forced to hand over their money for union political drives. Her successful challenge has reaffirmed the rights of teachers throughout California to pull out of their unions if and when they wish.


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