Help NPRI help teachers

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them. Just enter your email in the box on the top right.

For today's week-in-review email, Andy asks for your help in letting Nevada's hard-working teachers know that they have a chance from July 1 to July 15 to leave their union.

Imagine you joined a CD club or a book club. Maybe you thought it would be fun, or perhaps your friends pressured you into joining. In any case, imagine that after a few months, you realize the club just isn't for you.

You call the club's contact number and explain that you want to leave. However, you're told that the only way to leave is to send written notice during a narrow window, which happens to fall during the two most inconvenient weeks of the year.

Naturally, you'd be outraged. The First Amendment protects all citizens' right of association and, by implication, their right to terminate an association.

Unfortunately, the scenario described above isn't so hypothetical for public-school teachers in Nevada. Teachers in both the Clark County Education Association and the Washoe County Education Association are only allowed to leave their respective unions between July 1 and July 15. (The opt-out period is similar for most other Nevada teachers as well.) This is a time when most teachers are on summer vacation and, understandably, are trying to forget about school-related matters.

Make no mistake: The timeframe is not an accident. It's part of union officials' efforts to effectively deny teachers their ability to choose whether or not to stay in the union.

That's why we at NPRI are working hard to let teachers know they have this choice. And because teachers have only that two-week window, from July 1 to July 15, to act on their decision, we need your help to get the word out.

While we've been doing everything we can to let teachers know about their options, we don't know every teacher in the state. But among your friends and within your circles of influence, you probably know several teachers. So I'd like to ask you to consider doing a few things to help us in this effort.

First, please forward this to teachers who may be interested in knowing more about their options. Second, send those teachers this NPRI commentary, which lists several reasons many teachers are choosing to leave the Clark County Education Association (reasons that have to do with union problems all over the state, not just in Clark County). And third, encourage them to contact NPRI if they would like any additional information.

By the way, it's worth noting that teachers who opt out of the union are entitled to the same pay and benefits as those who are unionized. And if teachers are concerned about losing liability insurance or representation, there are numerous alternative professional associations for teachers that offer better coverage than what the unions provide - and for far less money.

For instance, the Association of American Educators offers teachers a $2 million liability insurance plan and legal counsel for any workplace employment issues. The cost is only $15 a month. In contrast, CCEA takes $64 from its members each month, but only offers $1 million in liability insurance. You can learn more at AAE's website.

To make it as easy as possible for teachers who wish to leave CCEA to do so, we've also provided a generic opt-out letter here. For teachers outside of Southern Nevada, a similar letter addressed to their union will work.

NPRI believes firmly that teachers should be able to leave their union whenever they want, but until that happens, teachers should at least be aware that the timeframe to do so - July 1-15 - is fast approaching.

Will you help us let teachers know they have a choice?

Even seemingly small steps, like forwarding this e-mail or sharing this commentary on Facebook or Twitter, can make a big difference in letting teachers know about their options.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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