Last autumn I wrote about the growing discontent of union households over the high price of membership. A Harris Interactive poll I cited found 47 percent of those in union households saying they didn't believe they were getting their money's worth out of union dues, in part because more and more of the money seemed to be going to political campaigns and advocacy outside of labor rather than to representing workers. Now a former government union official in Michigan, a state where reformers are pushing a so-called 'right to teach' act allowing public school instructors to opt out of the teacher's union, acknowledges as much.
Former union president John Ellsworth calls the legislation 'despicable' but acknowledges that even he might opt out of the union, where dues are nearly $800 a year. He estimates that between 10 percent and 40 percent of Michigan teachers might do the same. One is reason is news reports of hefty pay increases given to union leaders amid school cutbacks that have squeezed teacher salaries. Another is the increasing tendency of both state teacher groups and the National Education Association to spend dues money on political causes that have little to do with representing workers, as I explained here and the blogger Mike Antonucci reported here.