Behind the Headline: Why I’m Fighting My Teachers Union

On Top of the News
Why I’m Fighting My Teachers Union
Wall Street Journal | 1/3/16

Behind the Headline
The 2015 Ed Next Poll on School Reform
Education Next | Winter 2016

In the Wall Street Journal, California teacher Harlan Elrich explains why he is one of the plaintiffs in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, which will be heard by the Supreme Court next week.

The ten teachers are asking the court to strike down the law requiring teachers and other public sector workers to pay union fees even if they choose not to join a union.  Twenty three states have these laws.

He explains

The union is bargaining for things I’d never support. For example, in my community, the union spends resources pushing for ever-higher teacher salaries. I’m in favor of a decent salary for teachers, but I think we are already well paid compared with everyone else in the Central Valley.

And continues

The union also negotiates policies on discipline, grievances and seniority that make it difficult—if not impossible—to remove bad teachers.

He concludes

So I’m not against the union; I’m against the state forcing me to pay union fees against my will. Most Americans agree. Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government recently released its ninth annual “Education Next” opinion poll. A majority of teachers who had an opinion, 50% of those surveyed, favored ending mandatory agency fees.

The data from the 2015 Education Next poll are available here. You can also read an essay on the 2015 poll by Michael B. Henderson, Paul E. Peterson, and Martin R. West.

In “Teachers Unions At Risk of Losing Agency Fees,” Mike Antonucci analyzes the Friedrichs case.

– Education Next


Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College