A key to union success in many states is their ability to collect “agency fees” directly from teachers’ paychecks, whether or not the teachers belong to the union. Unions argue that such fees cover the costs of collective bargaining and therefore benefit all teachers, whether or not they are union members. Opponents of agency fees say they violate teachers’ free-speech rights by exacting money from them even if they don’t support a union presence.

What does the public think of agency fees? The 2017 EdNext poll found that 44% of respondents oppose the practice of requiring teachers to pay fees to unions they choose not to join, while just 37% support the practice. More surprising, perhaps, is the fact that teachers themselves are also more likely to oppose agency fees than to support them, by a narrow 47%–44% margin.

Agency fees are collected in 21 states, but today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus vs. AFSCME, a case that could end the practice.

— Education Next

Last updated February 26, 2018