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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Leftward ho: Unions reject move to middle

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a potential Democratic presidential candidate, spoke at the American Federation of Teachers convention in Pittsburgh. Photo: Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette

After the Janus ruling —  public employees can’t be required to pay “agency fees” to unions — some thought that “unions might temper their left-wing politics” to keep members from quitting,  write Rick Hess and Grant Addison on National Review. That’s not happening.

“We’re becoming more political, not less political,”  American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten declared at the union’s annual convention, which featured speeches by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and an award for Hillary Clinton.

The NEA, at its convention, gave awards to former First Lady Michelle Obama and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, note Hess and Addison.

The NEA adopted 122 total New Business Items, including commitments to promote the Black Lives Matter Week of Action (including supporting BLM’s demand that “ethnic studies be taught in pre-K-12 schools”), to support “a strategy postponing confirmation of a Supreme Court justice until after the mid-term election,” and to encourage teachers to assign readings that “describe and deconstruct the systemic proliferation of a White supremacy culture and its constituent elements of White privilege and institutional racism.” The NEA also promised to respond “in support of and in solidarity with immigrant families who are separated, incarcerated, or refused their legal right to request asylum due to the heartless, racist, and discriminatory zero-tolerance policies of the Trump administration.”

Janus will make the NEA the same but smaller, predicts Mike Antonucci on The 74. It could radically transform or wipe out the smaller, more vulnerable AFT in some states.

The NEA expects to lose 300,000 members, according to internal documents, write Hess and Addison. “Things look even bleaker” for the AFT,  “which has 15 of its 22 largest state affiliates in former agency-fee states — and already had fewer than half its members paying full dues.”

Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, warns that surveys show “many [teachers] see dues as too high” and “political activity as too leftist”; she also notes that “only half of all teachers voted for Hillary Clinton.”

If unions “persist in their socialist ways,” conservative, libertarian and apolitical teachers should keep their $1,000+ union dues money for themselves, writes Larry Sand, president of the anti-union California Teachers Empowerment Network.

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