Teachers' Organizations Seek to Break Education Union Monopoly

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNS) - Recently dismissed by American Federation of Teachers president Sandra Feldman as insignificant, non-union teachers' organizations are nonetheless a rapidly growing alternative to the AFT's and National Educational Association's power over issues like teacher's pay, charter schools, and curriculum revisions.

In right-to-work states like Georgia, Texas, and Missouri, union alternatives are larger than the state affiliates of the national teachers' unions - and in 22 states, they claim 220,000 members and growing.

These organizations, such as the 46,000 member Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), the 94,000 member Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), and the 42,000 member Missouri State Teacher's Association (MSTA) have come together to "provide teachers with a choice about whether or not to join their state union," Larry Comers of ATPE told CNSNews.com.

These teachers' organizations do not engage in collective bargaining, initiate strikes or work stoppages, and unlike unions who negotiate collective bargaining agreements in states without right-to-work laws, do not force non-members to pay dues.

Many of these organizations, ATPE and PAGE included, are not limited to teachers, but include bus drivers, administrators, school employees, and other non-teachers, because, as Dee Ann Aull of MSTA told CNSNews.com, "It takes all of us to educate a child. . . .It's important that we both independent and all-inclusive."

They also focus on collaboration and cooperation rather than confrontational tactics in advocating on educational issues.

"One of our founding tenets is collaboration," said Comers. "Education is too-important to justify confrontational tactics like strikes."

The same reasoning lies behind these organizations' opposition to collective bargaining. "We just don't think collective bargaining creates a good environment for learning to take place," said Aull.

Also, said Aull, collective bargaining does not allow for all teachers to be truly represented in discussing pay issues before their local school boards.

Collective bargaining laws are the target of a national advocacy group that is attempting to break the union monopoly in education. Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism (CEAFU) is a division of the National Right to Work Committee that serves as a liaison between teachers' organizations, as well as lobbies state legislatures for right-to-work laws in education.

"In their quest for power," Kathy Jones of CEAFU told CNSNews.com, "union officials have made winning monopoly bargaining and forced dues privileges their number one priority."