Coercive Letter is Designed to Scare Teachers Away from Exercising Their Rights
Providence, RI – With an initial meeting tonight, and in response to the June landmark Janus Supreme Court decision and the My Pay, My Say RI worker freedom campaign launched last week by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, the local Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA), desperate to keep dues money flowing, issued an inappropriately “threatening” letter to teachers within its collective bargaining unit, according to a news report on GoLocalProv.com.
The Center and other national labor experts say this letter from the Bristol-Warren teachers union, which over-emphasizes the potential negative consequences of exiting the union, serves as nothing more than a scare-tactic to union members who may not want their dues to support the political activities of the NEA and who may be considering disaffiliation.
Colin Sharkey, Executive Director of the Association of American Educators, a national non-union professional association for educators, when shown the Bristol-Warren teachers union letter shared, “It is disappointing that instead of demonstrating what is valuable about membership and focusing on quality service to members, some unions opted to send letters threatening and misinforming non-members as a way to keep dues flowing. It reminds us why the Supreme Court had to step in to respect the rights of all educators to choose which association to join, but also illustrates how much work still needs to be done to protect those rights. Rhode Island educators, union and non-union alike, deserve better.”
“This letter clearly does not represent the freedom of choice that the Janus decision envisions. The coercive nature of this letter itself may be grounds for legal action, as could any specific misrepresentations made in the letter. Our local and national legal team will soon make a judgment on some of its specific claims,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “It is encouraging that the NEA is complying with the Janus decision in that they are asking each teacher to affirmatively confirm that they choose to pay union dues, however the threatening tone of the letter defeats the purpose.”
Teachers and all state and municipal employees in Rhode Island can learn about their rights at MyPayMySayRI.com. The campaign is designed to inform public servants of their recently restored first Amendment rights, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus v AFSCME case.
The Center, in partnership with the $10 million national education and outreach campaign, My Pay My Say, has already accumulated tens of thousands of email and mailing addresses of government workers. Enough money has been raised to fund phase I of the campaign, which will include thousands of direct mail pieces.
The MyPayMySayRI.com website includes educational information for public employees, with a dedicated section for teachers, and will soon include information on the political spending of certain government unions. The website also includes a page for workers to tell their story if they have unsuccessfully tried to leave their union or have received unsatisfactory responses to inquiries of their employer or union officials.
The website further includes links to an opt-out page where an official letter, requesting exit from the individual’s specific union, can be automatically created and printed, as well as links to a page where individuals can indicate that they choose to remain in their union.
For more information visit the MyPayMySayRI.com website or follow us on Twitter at @MyPayMySayRI .