(Sharon Rossie, NPRI) – Four years ago, our NPRI team did something that seemed small. We told Clark County School District teachers that they could opt out of union membership and when and how to do so.
What we didn’t know then was that our initial efforts would blossom into a nationwide movement called National Employee Freedom Week that is spearheaded by NPRI.
What we found in 2011 is that hundreds of teachers already wanted to leave the Clark County Education Association. They simply didn’t know they could or when and how to do so.
When NPRI told them, union membership dropped by over 800 teachers, and teachers got to keep over $630,000 of their own money out of the hands of union officials. Since 2011, NPRI’s in-state information campaign has continued, and in total, we’ve helped over 2,100 teachers and support staff workers opt out of membership in the Nevada State Education Association. Combined, those workers have taken over $3 million that would have gone to union bosses and kept it for their families.
NPRI realized that if that many union members in one school district in just one state wanted out of their union that there must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of union members who also wanted to leave. They either didn’t know they could leave or when and how to do so.
So, we created a campaign to tell them — National Employee Freedom Week. Running from August 16 to 22 this year, NEFW is a week for groups all around the country to tell folks in their circles of influence that they can opt out of union membership.
In 2013, we had 65 groups join in. In 2014, we had 81 groups. This year, we had 102 groups from around the nation join in National Employee Freedom Week.
These groups spread the message from coast to coast, including over a dozen op-eds in newspapers like the Oregonian, Washington Times, Boston Herald and The Hill. There were radio interviews in states like Washington and Illinois. More importantly, there are currently 10 groups around the country running information campaigns letting specific union workers know about their ability to opt out and when and how to do so. NPRI has worked with most of those groups sharing what we did and have learned.
We estimate that these campaigns will cost union officials over $10 million in the next year. That’s $10 million they can’t spend on politics, paying themselves lavish salaries or attacking real education reform like Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts.
And it all started with NPRI four years ago.
Happy National Employee Freedom Week and thank you for helping us empower workers to opt out of union membership.
Sharon Rossie is president of Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that produces and shares ideas and information that empowers people. For more information, please visit www.NPRI.org.