A coalition of over a hundred groups this week is out in force for the third annual National Employee Freedom Week, a grassroots campaign dedicated to educating workers about union choice.
The coalition has seen growing support and membership over the few years it has existed. Just last year it had 81 non-profit organizations in 45 states. Now, 101 member groups have joined in to help with the campaign. The goal is simple, educate workers on their rights when it comes to union membership.
“They can already leave,” Victor Joecks, executive director for the coalition, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They just don’t have that information.”
Though the coalition is supported mostly by small groups, a few major organizations have signed on help. This includes Americans for Limited Government, the Center for Union Facts, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks and the National Right to Work Committee, among others.
“What I do is spearhead and reach out to our partners,” Joecks continued. “The real power of the week comes from these organizations.”
Rules regarding union membership are not the same in every state. Under current federal law, no one can be forced to join a union. In 25 states, however, unions can charge a fee to nonunion workers. Known as a fair-share fee, it’s charged under the assumption that nonunion workers benefit from the union’s policies. Additionally, most unions only allow members to leave at certain points in the year. These opt-out windows are often not disclosed to members.
“We choose August because it’s a time period when a lot of opt-out windows are happening,” Joecks noted.
The idea for this national awareness and polling week started when the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) conducted a small information campaign to let teachers in Clark County, Nev. know they could end their membership with the Clark County Education Association by submitting a written notice from July 1 to July 15.
“We did a small information campaign,” Joecks said. “We were stunned by the amount of teachers that came out.”
Though the state has allowed workers to leave their union without fees since 1951, the teachers union still had a stranglehold on membership. After reaching out to teachers, NPRI found many wanted to leave the union but didn’t know they could.
This year’s national polling found similar results. According to the coalition, one in four union members would leave their union if they could without consequence. The polling also found three in four union members think union membership should be a choice.
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