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Your Money, Your Rights


The U.S. Supreme Court gives states the latitude to direct labor policy, but it has also instituted certain protections which are designed to prevent violations of teachers' freedoms of speech and association through forced union dues for politics.

Click here to check out the specific rights teachers have to protect their money from funding teacher union politics.  Our Union Opt Out Tools page will give you the instruments you need to exercise your rights.


The National Education Association (NEA) requires unified dues of the local, state, and national unions.  This policy prohibits a teacher from joining the local NEA affiliate without also funding the state and national unions' activities. Unified union dues in the Northwest range from $600 to $1000 and are used to fund controversial political agendas unrelated to representation. The unified dues enable the teacher unions to "act as bargaining agents, lobbyists, political contributors and elections staff rolled into one."


The Wall Street Journal article, "Teachers' Pets," exposed the use of teachers' dues to advance a political agenda many teachers do not share. Because of this, thousands of educators are resigning from unions to join independent professional organizations and explore cost effective "local only" representation options.  Many educators do not know that they have the constitutional right to not pay for union spending that is unrelated to representation (such as politics).

Former Spokane Education Association President, Lynn Jones, revealed in the Spokesman Review (9/9/96) that only 20-30% of educators' union dues is used for collective bargaining, grievance resolution, and arbitration. The rest is spent on activity such as political organizing, advertising, training activists, electioneering, fundraising, donations to the Democrat Party and its political allies, voter list development, etc.

The NEA refuses to inform members what it spends on representation versus politics. NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel stated “Audit findings are confidential documents,” after being asked when NEA members would learn the results of the IRS audit of the NEA at the 2005 NEA Convention. U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said vague reporting was one reason that officials of the Washington Teachers Union, who were later convicted, had been able to get away with illegal use of members' dues "for designer clothes, lavish vacations and political activity to the tune of $5 million."  "The answer is simple," she said in a speech. "Union members have almost no access to detailed information about their unions' finances. Even the U.S. Labor Department has a difficult time getting this detailed information. . . All that has got to change."

State NEA affiliates (including IEA, WEA, and OEA) unsuccessfully sued the Department of Labor for requiring the teacher unions to disclose how members' dues are spent. Other tactics to ensure that teachers do not know about union spending on politics and teachers' rights have included legal threats and harassment lawsuits against concerned teachers who have sought union accountability.