In a recent Baltimore Sun op-ed and WorkplaceChoice.org blog post, I argue against Maryland's Orwellian-named Fair Share Act, which contrary to its name is unfair and coercive in nature. The bill (currently waiting for Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature) would make payments to teachers unions compulsory, whether a member or not, throughout all Maryland Public School Districts.
If passed into law, it would require all school districts to negotiate with the Maryland State Education Association to set a service fee to "cover" non-union members' representation costs. Currently only 10 of Maryland's 24 school districts require non-union teachers to pay union dues.
In the Sun I ask the questions:
But what if teachers don't want this type of "equity"? What if they don't want to join a union? What if they want to negotiate their own contract? Why shouldn't they be allowed to do so?
Well, according to the Baltimore County Union President Abby Beytiun those are illegitimate concerns. In her letter to the editor published in the Baltimore Sun she responds with this doozy:
The Fair Share legislation will create an environment of fairness and equity among all of our educators, who all contribute to the negotiated benefits and legally required representation that they all enjoy. By state mandate, the union must represent all members of the bargaining unit in negotiations and contractual issues.
First, Beytiun's proposition that state-granted power of coercion to garnish teachers wages as fair is more than disingenuous.
Second, Maryland and most other states already bill taxpayers for representational services provided by government-employee unions to nonmembers. The practice is known as union release time or "official time," and it allows government employees to perform union duties during their workday.
In addition, through Maryland's Public Information Act, the Competitive Enterprise Institute obtained union release-time records for nine of the 10 school districts that already require forced union dues. Here are the number of days taken for official time in 2011-2012:
- Allegany County: 81.5 days
- Anne Arundel County: 209 days
- Baltimore City: 84 days
- Baltimore County: 60 days
- Calvert County: 120 days
- Charles County: 31.8 days
- Garrett County: 17.5 days
- Howard County: 48 days
- Prince George's County: 322 days
Visit WorkplaceChoice.org to view the union release time public records requests in their entirety.