National Employee Freedom Week, an effort to inform public-sector union employees about their opportunity to opt out of union membership, takes place next month.
The seven-day period, scheduled for Aug. 14-20, 2022, began a decade ago as an effort to let Las Vegas-area teachers know they weren’t required to belong to a union. Union membership is a choice, not a requirement, to pursue a teaching job or any other position in the public sector.
Nevada educators have just a two-week window each year, from July 1-15, in which they can opt out of teachers unions.
The success in helping give educators the option to leave unions brought about National Employee Freedom Week. This effort, led by Nevada Policy and the Association of American Educators, now reaches across the country, letting those in the public sector know they don’t have to belong to unions that they feel inadequately represent their interests.
Nevada union membership was 12.2 percent of those employed in the Silver State in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down sharply from two years earlier, when 14.6 percent of employees belonged to unions.
Nationally, union membership dropped to 10.3 percent of the nation’s workforce last year, down nearly 50 percent from 1983, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking union membership.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that it is a clear violation of an employee’s First Amendment rights to be forced to pay dues to a union they do not support.
In past years, more than 100 national and state-level groups joined the coordinated effort to raise awareness of worker-freedom reforms, including the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, Association of American Educators and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
In the end, Employee Freedom Week is about ensuring every worker has the right to decide for themselves whether union membership is right for them.