Sharon Rossie

Every week, NPRI President Sharon Rossie 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.

When I returned to NPRI late this summer, the Institute and friends like yourself were just wrapping up our annual teacher union opt-out campaign.

It’s an effort that’s run for the last four years, and it informs Nevada educators and school district employees of their rights to opt out of union membership. Unlike states like California, Nevada workers enjoy the freedom to join — or not join — a union as they please. Their job and compensation are unaffected by not joining a union. But once teachers and other school district employees join their local affiliate of the Nevada State Education Association, they can only opt out between July 1 to 15.

This year, we received an email from a teacher that sums up why we do what we do.

Thank you for sending this out! I dropped my membership last year after 13 years of paying in because I thought I had to. We really need to get the word out regarding how our dues are spent! Thanks again for your effort!

That was one of numerous emails we received this summer after NPRI emailed teachers throughout the state informing them of their right to leave the union. We also reached teachers — including new teachers that are pressured to join the union at teacher orientation — through billboards positioned along busy thoroughfares and media coverage.

And the work paid off! As detailed in Sunday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, membership in the Clark County Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union plummeted over the summer.

Our campaign and your efforts letting teachers in our circles of influence know about this option paid off in a big way.

In Clark County, 1,338 teachers either left the union after our educational campaign or chose not to join in the first place. That means 1,338 Clark County teachers joined thousands of other teachers who have, in recent years, decided to keep nearly $800 of would-be union dues in their pockets each year and exercise their personal freedom.

In the four years NPRI has led this effort, membership in the CCEA has fallen from 67 percent to 52 percent, with 7 percent of that drop being this year alone.

Teachers in Washoe County also exercised their right to choose and many left the union. A total of 163 teachers — or 4 percent of the Washoe Education Association’s members — left or chose not to join the union this summer.

Between Clark and Washoe, teachers are keeping over $1 million of their own money, instead of giving it to union bosses for causes they may disagree with.

Many teachers — a near majority in both Clark and Washoe — aren’t happy with their current union representation or they don’t see the value of paying hundreds of dollars a year to belong to a union that gives them little, if anything, in exchange for their dues. In the case of Clark County teachers, the CCEA was chosen as the official bargaining agent for teachers in 1969. We’ve found that over 99 percent of teachers working there today never had a voice in who represents them.

Teachers and all union members in Nevada deserve the chance to vote for their union representation. Lawmakers can make this happen by requiring unions to regularly be voted in by their members, ensuring unions are accountable to the people who fund them. It’s an idea NPRI pushed for in this past Legislative Session and will continue to fight for in the future.

And, you and the teacher whose email I shared above can be certain: We will continue to educate teachers until all of them know their rights.

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President

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