Mat-Su School Board Member Kathy McCollum appears in a video posted by Alaska Policy Forum, in which she encourages teachers opt out of their union.
In the video, McCollum notes that she taught in the Mat-Su School District for 31 years, mostly as a dues paying union member.
“I decided to opt out of my union, mainly because I didn’t agree with the policies of NEA,” McCollum said. “Their political contributions didn’t match what my beliefs were, and it just didn’t seem right that I had to pay to a group in order to do the job that I really wanted to do. So, I decided to look into opting out.”
The National Education Association, which has chapters all across the country, is the primary teachers union in the nation. It is also an extremely left-leaning organization that almost exclusively backs Democratic candidates and a liberal political agenda.
Initially, McCollum had no idea that leaving her union was even an option. Eventually, she discovered that she could receive the political portion of her dues back. At that time, she was paying roughly $1,000 in annual dues.
After filling out a form, she was able to get back about $385, which was the political portion of her dues.
She said the process was difficult at first, because the union was not helpful in assisting her. But once she pulled out of the union, quite a few of her colleagues joined her. Many of them had no idea that such a move was even possible.
“It really caused a little bit of a stir,” she said, noting that roughly a dozen of her colleagues from the same school left the union.
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After opting out of the political money, however, she still had to pay quite a bit of money to the union for bargaining.
In 2018, about two years before she retired, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision came out, which ruled that non-union government workers cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition of working in public service.
At that point, McCollum said she and many others completely opted out of all union dues, and from that point on they never paid any dues.
The rest of her job did not change. She still had the same salary and benefits.
“You still do that job you want to do,” McCollum said. “If you’re a teacher who doesn’t agree with the union’s policies and support for political activities, you can opt out … It’s not as hard or scary as you think.”
— Click here for information on how to opt out of any public employee union in Alaska.