Waterville teachers to WEA: Let my people go
Last month, teachers in the Waterville School District won their independence from the Washington Education Association, the state teachers’ union. See The Wenatchee World article here. Led by a young third-grade teacher, Justin Grillo, Waterville’s teachers have successfully broken away from the WEA and formed their own bargaining unit, the Waterville Teachers Leadership Group. This unit will represent teachers’ interests and negotiate directly with the school district.
Teachers in Waterville resented the $900 a year forcibly deducted from their paychecks each year and deposited into WEA and national teachers' union accounts. Teachers also resented the use of their dues on political purposes not consistent with their values. WEA receives $33 million in dues taken from teachers' paychecks each year.
The effort to break away started over a year ago. Waterville teachers filed a petition to decertify WEA in June of 2011. The entire process is rule-laden, tedious and time-consuming. The union fought the Waterville teachers every step of the way.
State law protects the union’s business model and the status quo by making it very difficult for workers to hold a vote on workplace representation. Some parts of the state have not seen a certification election within living memory, and there are public school teachers in many districts who have never voted in a union certification election. Workers have a right to decide who should represent them. Teachers should be given the right to vote at least once a year on what union should represent them.