Teachers Alive and Well Year after Leaving Union


I don’t like unions because of what they’ve become. In many instances, they use their powers to influence politics, extort employers and use strong arm tactics against anyone who believes in the right to work without union membership.

Years ago in Arizona, I joined the union when I worked for a utility. After 2 years, I decided to quit the union because they were talking about a strike that could last months. My family was too important to me and I could not afford to go months without an income. When I submitted my resignation, you would have thought that I had renounced my citizenship by the way the union acted. They continued to harass me for months. I informed them that Arizona was a right to work state and if they didn’t leave me alone I would file a lawsuit against them for undue harassment.

Last year, teachers in the Deerfield Unified School District 216 decided to do the same thing, leave the union. Instead of belonging to the state teachers union, they voted to join the non-union Kansas Association of American Educators. The KAAE helps provide legal counsel and liability insurance, but it does not get involved with any contract negotiations.

The local newspaper, the Garden City Telegraph, reported the results of the vote for to leave the union:

“After an initial vote held on May 14 that resulted in a tie of 13-13, a second mail-in vote was held, and 24 ballots were sent in, according to Joel McClure, a former Deerfield teacher who helped spearhead the effort. Of the 24 that were sent in, only 21 were accepted because three of the teachers had resigned, including McClure. Two other teachers abstained from voting, and one ballot didn’t make it in time, McClure said.”

After the vote, McClure commented:

“We started to think, ‘Well, what if next year, it’s four (members), what if it’s three, what if it’s two, what if it’s one? That only leaves a very, very small amount of people to govern locally, and that’s just no good for anybody. So, about the only way we could fix it was to go through this decertification process to try to change it, and luckily, we were very successful in that.”

Deerfield is not a big school district, but the state teachers union did not want to let them go. They warned them that if they voted to leave the union that it could backfire on them if a contract dispute ever happened. Pamela Torgerson, associated with the headquarters of the state teachers union warned them:

“My concern with that is that without any kind of organizational backing, it’s going to be hard for the teachers there to enforce their negotiated agreement. So, if they get into trouble during bargaining, they have to go to mediation on their own, and if things work out even worse and they decide to go to fact-finding, they’re pretty much on their own. They would have to pay for the fact finder to come out.”

A year after leaving the union, Doug Crandall, a Deerfield teacher and president of the newly formed Deerfield Educators Association said:

“Things are going pretty well, actually.”

“I was a member of KNEA for 27 years and the president of our local association here for over 15 years, and I did not see how they manipulate statements and try to ‘bully’ others that oppose them until after I helped us to decertify. They’re trying to tell some of our younger teachers they need to be scared, especially now with the new tenure rule, and it’s got some of our new teachers antsy.”

Crandall said that the union bullying has progressed to the stage of possibly trying to force another vote among Deerfield teachers on whether or not they want re-certify and rejoin the union. Crandall is doing his best to squelch the antsiness among the younger teachers. Like I said earlier, unions are ruthless in their bullying against anyone who decides to leave their ranks.

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