As right-to-work legislation makes significant victories across the country, allowing employees to decide whether or not they want to join a union, the Maryland teachers union appears to be taking the opposite approach.
According to the Washington Examiner, the union is actively planning to make even non-union teachers pay dues in the near future.
The Washington Examiner explains:
Del. Sheila Hixson, D-Montgomery County, will introduce a bill on behalf of the Maryland State Education Association to require nonunion educators to pay a so-called fair share fee to unions equivalent to about 68 percent of the local dues.
Under Maryland law, local teachers unions are required to negotiate contracts that cover all educators, whether or not they are members of the union. They also must represent nonunion educators in grievances.
Association spokesman Adam Mendelson said the bill wouldn’t force people to join the union, just require them to help pay for the union benefits they receive.
“All school employees benefit from those services, but there’s not a companion or complementary law for fair share that requires all employees to contribute to those benefits they enjoy,” Mendelson said. [Emphasis added]
Maryland state employees have been subject to “fair share” fees since 2009, according to the Maryland Reporter, but teachers aren’t covered by the law.
A number of counties have already targeted teachers with the fees, though, and since the union already covers about 80% of Maryland teachers, the move appears to be an effort to grab the relatively small number of educators who are still not paying dues.
Mendelson assured that those who already pay “fair share” fees, also referred to as “agency fees,” will not have to pay twice with the new legislation. In total, according to the Maryland reporter, the fees average between $400-$500 per year for each teacher.
But Sen. David Brinkley, a Republican who represents Frederick and Carroll counties, says the change will mean that unions do not have to earn their paychecks the way every other business does. Not only that, he argues, but it is essentially a “tax” on teachers.
“My argument is every professional organization worth its salt earns its dues and earns membership, and the union leadership is imposing a tax on people who want to teach and padding their own pockets,” he stated, according to the Washington Examiner.