Over the past six months, Freedom Foundation’s outreach team has been hammering Oregon’s three largest unions representing public school employees.
In turn, those school employees have been hammering the unions where it hurts, with more than 1,100 members of the Oregon Education Association (OEA), Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA) and American Federation of Teachers Oregon (AFT OR) leaving their union membership and dues payments behind since May.
For several years now, the impetus for the unions’ declining membership ranks has been the Freedom Foundation’s grassroots campaign — which includes canvassing, emails, phone calls and mail — to inform teachers and other public-school employees of their constitutional right to leave the union and stop paying dues.
But while the Freedom Foundation’s outreach provides the support many members need to make the decision to leave, radical union leaders ultimately have nobody to blame but themselves for the root cause of members’ dissatisfaction.
Specifically, the most recent spike in membership resignations came as the Freedom Foundation informed employees of the wildly unpopular political and social stances their unions have taken over the last year — stances that include committing to efforts to “disarm, defund and ultimately abolish police forces,” and, most recently, seeking to eliminate 20 days of in-person learning from the school calendar.
The resulting exodus by outraged teachers and school employees adds insult to the unions’ already injured membership ranks.
On their websites, for example, the OSEA and AFT OR boast of representing 22,000 and 17,000 employees, respectively. However, according to federal reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the OSEA only has 13,130 dues-paying members, while AFT OR has 8,654.
That equates to a 40 percent and 49 percent non-membership rate for the two unions. The exact percentage of OEA membership losses is unknown, since the union is not required to publicly disclose those figures.
“That’s the problem with monopolies,” said Jason Dudash, Oregon director of the Freedom Foundation. “They never learned how to compete by offering a product someone would buy without being forced.
“Oregon public-sector unions had a monopoly on the state’s government labor market for generations until the Supreme Court ended it a few years ago,” he said. “Now they’re finding that their strongarm tactics no longer work.”
And that’s a good thing.