Nevada teachers may opt out of union membership

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No teachers in Nevada have to join their local affiliate of the Nevada State Education Association. Once they do, however, most can only leave by submitting written notice during the middle of their summer vacation.

An NPRI analysis of teacher union contracts around the state found that almost all contain clauses requiring teachers who want to opt-out to submit written notice to their union and/or school district in the two weeks following July 1.

School district contracts in Carson City and Elko, Douglas and Lincoln counties do not include an opt-out period, although one may be stated on the form teachers sign when they join the union. The Mineral County School District offers teachers the most freedom, because its contract states that a dues “authorization shall continue in effect unless such authorization is formally revoked by the teacher in writing and copies thereof are delivered to the association and the board.”

During the first two weeks of July, most teachers are on vacation, with school-related activities far from their minds — which is why union bosses choose that period: It gives them their best chance to avoid accountability.

But because accountability is important, NPRI is making available generic opt-out letters for teachers in every school district in the state — as well as citing some of the many reasons that their fellow teachers opt out of union membership.

What are the reasons many teachers leave the union?

Reason 1: Union officials are paying themselves lavish salaries with teachers’ dues money.

In 2011, the latest year that records are available, the seven highest paid officials with the Nevada State Education Association had an average compensation of $174,354. This included three workers with the job title of “employee.” Those three “employees” took home an average of $171,606 in 2011.

At the local level, union-employee compensation is even more outlandish. Over a two-year period, one union boss pocketed over $1.1 million from the union and union-related organizations.

While teachers were struggling, union officials used teachers’ dues to pay themselves handsomely.

Reason 2: Exiting the union saves a teacher hundreds of dollars a year.

How would you use the hundreds of dollars a year you’d save by leaving the union? A mortgage payment? A vacation with your family? Monthly massages to melt away the stress of teaching? Less worry about finances? New shoes and clothing for your children?

Teachers who opt out believe they can spend their own money better than do the union bosses who funnel it into their own pockets.

Reason 3: Alternative professional educator associations offer better benefits for less.

The union tells teachers that if they join, they get a $1 million liability protection policy. Naturally, teachers like knowing they’re financially protected from lawsuits from disgruntled parents.

What teachers often miss, however, is that even better insurance and benefits than CCEA offers are available from national, non-partisan professional-educator associations. The Association of American Educators is one such organization. For only $15 a month, AAE provides each member a $2 million liability insurance policy, legal protection and supplementary insurance options.

Reason 4: The union plays politics with teachers’ money

Campaign finance reports show that the Nevada State Education Association has plowed over $1.1 million in members’ money into its badly designed margin-tax ballot campaign. The union bosses also often brag about their ability to play politics in Carson City.

Yet, most teachers — whether of the right or the left — aren’t involved in education because they enjoy politics. Many teachers just want to teach, and leave political pursuits to their personal lives, not their professional ones.

Do you want to opt out of the union? The good news is that you soon will be able to do so. Just submit written notice between July 1 and 15. Links to generic opt-out letters for every Nevada school district can be found in the above chart.

If you know a teacher in Nevada, do them a favor and let them know about this limited window when they can choose the decision about union membership that’s best for them.

Victor Joecks is executive vice president at the Nevada Policy Research Institute. For more, visit


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