I strongly support the Arkansas Constitution when it says that everyone, regardless of their membership or non-membership in a union, has the right to work in our state. I also believe that when it comes to joining or quitting a union, the playing field should be even.
In the LREA Membership Application, it clearly states that “…in order to resign my membership, I must submit certified letters of resignation to the Little Rock Education Association office and the Little Rock School District Financial Services/Business Office dated no earlier than June 15 and no later than July 15. I also understand that although I have elected to pay in installments, I am responsible for the entire dues amount.”
In other words, you may join the union at any time by simply completing and submitting the application, but you may only resign by certified letter delivered to two different locations within the prescribed one month window or be forced to pay another year’s annual dues through monthly payroll deductions collected by the district.
Reads like one of those bad fitness club agreements from the ’90s.
There is an alternative in order to keep more money in the pockets of new and veteran teachers. For 25% of the annual $701 LREA/AEA/NEA membership, teachers may join the professional, non-union Arkanas State Teachers Association for $180 annually and receive benefits comparable to or exceeding those of union membership.
Unfortunately, the LREA collective bargaining agreement bars the Little Rock School District from sharing this, or any other alternative professional group, information with its teachers and staff.
Further, the district’s collectively bargained certified contract pays the heads of both the LREA and the Arkansas Education Association/National Education Association (AEA/NEA), then is reimbursed by the respective unions. For the record, ASTA pays its own management directly.
When a district prohibits employees from quitting a union at any time, allows any group to hold a monopoly on professional group choice, collects – through monthly payroll deduction – over $1,000,000 in annual dues, and hands it over to the union with no administrative fee, someone – administrative or elected – was either asleep or complicit across the bargaining table.