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.

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.

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Mat-Su School Board member encourages teachers to opt out of their union

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    It is good to hear this information is becoming more available. As a young teacher back in the late 80’s I wanted nothing to do with the union but no one ever informed me that I could opt out and maybe back then it wasn’t possible. I did not stay in public education long enough to find out and ended up in a different career but I have the utmost respect for the rigors of classroom teaching. Most teachers are very dedicated and likely many of them would be happy to be untangled from union involvement.

  • Willy Keppel says:

    Bush Alaska is hiring Visa Green Card teachers. They don’t waste money by joining the union.

  • Richard Morgan says:

    Like she said all members can opt out of the political portion and keep that money in their pocket. The local union that represents all teachers in bargaining issues, and discipline also offers mentoring programs for it’s members all out of dues. I think it is interesting that a partisan elected official works so hard to take that representation away from it’s members. Like all those in power or wanting to take control, hates anyone that might stand in their way, or point out the outrageous salaries the current school board has awarded administration staff making two of them paid more than the sitting Governor,

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I’d be opting out of the political portion of the union dues also. I am shocked at how political the unions are – to the point of strongly recommending presidents. This is not what our teachers should be concentrating on. Opting out is a choice. But, being told you have that choice was very rarely said out loud. I hope that every teacher opts out!

  • North to the Future says:

    I applaud Ms. McCollum for speaking out on this issue. The unions have held sway over the members for far too long, gaining power and influence with union dues; power and influence with which many of their membership may not agree.

    If the unions want to hold on to their membership, let them earn it by convincing the employees to Opt-In, rather than the current status which requires an employee to Opt-Out. If members don’t agree with the politics of the organization, they should have the right to choose whether they want to be associated.

    “Public employees are finally free to make their own decisions about union membership
    For decades, government workers in many states could be fired for refusing to financially support a labor union. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Janus v. AFSCME, 585 US (2018), that public employees can no longer be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
    Supreme Court staff summarized the decision this way:
    “The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them. Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”
    Similarly, in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn, 573 US (2014), that “partial-public employees” like state-paid home care aides, child care providers and others were free to choose whether to support a union.
    Currently, only private-sector employees in certain states can be legally obligated to pay any union dues or fees.
    To learn more about how to exercise your constitutional rights, select your state above.”

  • John J Otness says:

    Amen Ms McCollum…Ty…

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    I did the same, way back in the mid 90s, in a bush school district which I will not name. It was an open shop and I opted out. In some ways I felt bad about it, but people didn’t treat me as a scab- to my face anyway- but even then the NEA was far left. I could not give to the Democrat Party, to Planned Parenthood, and gay stuff was already coming on the scene and being supported by the union. Today it is FAR, FAR worse and I would never sign my dues over to what is basically an arm of the Democrat Party. In reality, the Democrat Party protects the teachers’ unions, and the teachers’ unions protect and fund the NEA and AFT. One hand washes the other, as gangsters used to say.

  • jon says:

    I “opted out of the union” but still had to pay almost the entire amount to cover “incidentals”. My advice is to stay in the union so you have a say.