Summer getaway

Andy Matthews

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.

Summer getaway

With school out for most Nevada students and summer rapidly approaching, many Nevada families are planning their summer getaway.

While most summer vacations last a few days to a week, for hundreds of Nevada teachers, this summer will mark the start of a permanent vacation — one from the Nevada State Education Association. And, unlike other vacations that cost families money, teachers who choose a teacher-union getaway will save hundreds of dollars in the short term and thousands in the coming years.

From July 1 to July 15, Nevada teachers may opt out of union membership by notifying their local union affiliate — and in some cases their school district — in writing of their desire to leave the teacher union. Nevada is a right-to-work state, but because of this small, ill-timed opt-out window, many teachers have no idea they’re able to make this important decision.

That’s why, for the third year in a row, NPRI has launched its summer teacher-union opt-out awareness campaign. Two weeks ago, we emailed teachers throughout the state to make them aware of the rights that their union tries to keep secret, and several days later, we unveiled electronic billboards throughout the Las Vegas Valley to raise awareness further.

The message is simple: Union membership is a choice, and teachers deserve to be able to make this choice on their own.

Since we launched this effort two summers ago, more than 1,400 teachers have left the Nevada State Education Association, taking with them over $1.1 million in annual dues. They’ve cited a number of motivators for leaving, including:

  • To save money: Teachers believe they can spend their union dues (more than $770 per year for Clark County educators) better than their union does. The money represents a mortgage payment for some, classroom supplies for others, back-to-school clothes for those with children, and much, much more.
  • To get out of politics: The vast majority of teachers teach because they have a passion for educating young minds, not because they want to play politics. And many Nevada teachers don’t agree with the NSEA politically and don’t want to see their hard-earned dollars working against them. Take the margin tax: The NSEA is the job-killing initiative’s only major backer. Why should teachers financially support an initiative they know would hurt Nevada’s economy?
  • To be heard: Nevada teachers report the union is unresponsive to their needs and disrespects them. For only $15 per month, teachers can find better representation through nonpartisan associations like the Association of American Educators.

The Heartland Institute — a premiere news source for legislators across the nation — and the Nevada Business magazine wrote about our efforts and the movement that has led union membership in the Clark County Education Association and Washoe Education Association — the NSEA’s two largest chapters — to drop to 59.5 percent and 60.5 percent, respectively.

It’s clear that, given the choice to leave or stay in the union, many teachers leave.

Presumably, the union recognizes the threat. Just days after we began emailing teachers, the CCEA turned to Twitter to promote reasons to stay in the union. And, on Monday, the NSEA emailed members encouraging them to participate in a phone bank, saying, “Your help with phoning is hugely important as we work to minimize drops and increase membership!”

Unlike the union that wants to keep this information quiet, we believe Nevada’s educators are intelligent enough to make their own choices for themselves and for their families — whatever those choices may be. For teachers who believe leaving the union is their best option, we’ve provided pre-written letters so they can opt out with ease.

While our efforts are garnering national attention, we can only reach a fraction of Nevada teachers by email, and our billboard ads will likely only be seen by teachers in CCSD. So, if you know a teacher in Nevada, let him or her know that union membership isn’t mandatory, but that to opt out, one must do so during the first two weeks of July.

It might be the best vacation tip they’ve ever received.


On an unrelated note, be sure to get your tickets for our annual Spring Celebration in Reno before they’re gone. The event is this coming Wednesday, June 18, at the Eldorado, and we’re fortunate to have Cato Institute Senior Fellow and health care expert Michael Tanner as our keynote speaker. I assure you: It’s not to be missed!

Have a great weekend,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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