In a major blow to teachers unions in particular, the KNEA especially, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that charging government employees compulsory union dues violates the First Amendment.
The suit was brought by Mark Janus, a state welfare worker in Illinois. In order to stay employed, Janus had to cough up thousands of dollars in fees to a union that he did not feel represented his interests.
“The union’s fight is not my fight,” said Janus. “For years it supported politicians who put the state into its current budget and pension crises. . . . That’s not public service.”
Janus got his day in court and then some. By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor and against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
It is likely that teachers union will feel the sting of this decision most dramatically. The National Education Association (NEA) is already predicting the loss of 300,000 teachers nationwide now that they will no longer be forced to pay dues.
Teachers unions in traditional “red” states like Kansas and Missouri may be hit disproportionately hard. The NEA has become over the years the single most influential member of the Democratic coalition. Local affiliates like the KNEA skew deeply Democratic as well.
There are many conservatives teachers in Kansas and Missouri that chafe, as Janus did, at having to support political entities that do not reflect their values.
In Kansas the KNEA has repeatedly shown its indifference to local values. In March, for instance, Mark Desetti, a legislative and policy director for the KNEA, gratuitously weighed in on the Kansas bill that allowed faith-based adoption agencies to place children in only those homes with a married man and woman. He mocked it as “discrimination.”
In January, Desetti dismissed legislative efforts to challenge the Kansas Supreme Court as so much “posturing.” His organization is fully on board the educational establishment’s effort to secure more taxpayer dollars.
There is a lot not to like about the KNEA, and many teachers will likely start expressing that dislike with their feet.