Although California is not a right-to-work state, public school teachers have the ability to receive a yearly rebate of $300 – $400 from the California Teachers Association.
Teachers have these options because the United States Supreme Court has held that a union can’t force a non-union member to pay for the union’s political and other activities unrelated to bargaining and representing workers.
A teacher’s ability to exercise these options is limited, however, and the necessary paperwork must be sent to CTA by November 15. (All teachers in LA Unified and those represented by the California Federation of Teachers have different rules and information is available on CaliforniaTeacherFreedom.com.)
First, if teachers are CTA members, they must leave the union. A generic resignation letter is available here. Teachers only have to opt out of CTA one time.
Next — and this must be done yearly — those who have opted out must submit written notice to CTA between September 1 and November 15 requesting a “rebate” for the portion of their dues that goes to political and other non-chargeable activities. This rebate is usually between $300 – $400, depending on a teacher’s local school district. A generic rebate-request letter is available here.
Alternatively, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures that workers with a strong moral objection to the union or its activities, like union support of abortion or gay marriage, can become a religious objector and redirect their union dues to a charitable organization. If a teacher wants to become a religious or conscientious objector, a how-to guide is available from National Right to Work and free legal assistance is available by contacting NRTW’s Bruce Cameron at email@example.com. Teachers wishing to become religious objectors should not request to become agency fee payers.
Because teachers are busy teaching from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15 and most don’t even know these options are available, it’s important to remind teachers of some of the reasons other teachers are exercising these options.
Reason 1: CTA spends hundreds of millions of dues dollars on politics
Many teachers believe that the $1,000 they pay in union dues only pays for education-related activities. Nothing could be further from the truth, as CTA spends hundreds of millions of dollars from member dues on politics.
Since 2000, CTA has spent over $290 million on political campaigns and lobbying. That’s more than twice as much as California’s next largest special interest group, the Service Employees International Union, and more than five times as much as the California Chamber of Commerce.
Reason 2: It would save you $300 – $400 a year
For CTA officials, $400 represents around 1/1000 of a percent of their recent political donations and lobbying expenditures.
Imagine what you would do with an extra $400. Would you spend it on Christmas presents for your kids? Make a car payment? Book an extra getaway for your family? Save it?
Teachers can spend their own money better than union bosses wanting to “play in politics.”
Reason 3: CTA supports issues many members oppose and/or find morally objectionable
For instance, CTA donated over $1.2 million to oppose Proposition 8, which sought to preserve the traditional definition of marriage and supports only “pro-choice” candidates.
Recently, former CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett bragged: “In California, and with the support of CTA, we have fought back three attempts to curtail a woman’s right to choose … Currently, California is one of only 10 states that have no additional restrictions on reproductive health.”
This year, CTA also supported a just-passed bill that allows high school boys to shower in girls’ locker rooms.
Reason 4: Alternative professional educator associations offer better benefits for less
CTA tells teachers that a real benefit of joining is employment liability coverage that reimburses teachers for legal costs if they are ever sued. Naturally, teachers like knowing they are protected financially from lawsuits by disgruntled parents or students.
What teachers often miss, however, is that comparable or even better insurance and benefits than CTA offers are available from national, non-partisan, professional-educator associations. The Association of American Educators (AAE) and Christian Educators Association International are two such groups. For only $15 a month, AAE provides each member a $2 million liability insurance policy, legal protection and supplementary insurance options.
How to proceed
First, if you are currently a CTA member, you need to request to become an agency fee payer instead. A generic letter requesting to become an agency fee payer is available here. You only need to take this step once.
Next — and you must do this every year between September 1 and November 15 — you can get a “rebate” of your money that CTA would otherwise spend on politics by sending written notice to:
Agency Fee Rebate
CTA Membership Accounting Department
P.O. Box 4178
Burlingame, California 94011-4178
To ensure receipt of your letters we recommend sending them Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested Signature and making and keeping a copy of your letters for your records.
For teachers who have a strongly held religious beliefs opposing CTA’s support for things like gay marriage or abortion and want to become religious objectors, a how-to guide is available from National Right to Work and free legal assistance is available by contacting NRTW’s Bruce Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org. Teachers wishing to become religious objectors should not request to become agency fee payers.
CTA teachers in LA Unified or CFT teachers should visit CaliforniaTeacherFreedom.com to learn how to get their rebate.
Larry Sand is a retired teacher and president of the California Teacher Empowerment Network. Ed Ring is executive director of the California Public Policy Center. For more, visit http://CaliforniaTeacherFreedom.com and .