Read about this scandalous state of affairs over at the Education Wonks.
As I have said before, I actually like the ideal of teachers having an organization that exists in order to advocate improved salaries and working conditions for teachers.This is great. Appoint your own "executive committee" and have them make "recommendations."
But... I will only support such an organization if it is democratically-run, financially transparent, and accountable to its rank-and-file. Neither NEA nor CTA comes close to fulfilling even one of these important criteria.
Teachers who don't like their money being used for political campaigns that are contrary to their beliefs need to become familiar with the Supreme Court's Beck decision.
In both organizations, dues are increased upon the "recommendation" of an appointed "executive committee." The membership never has an opportunity to have a say in setting the level of monthly dues. And since California is a "closed shop" state, the withholding of dues (from the union) is not an option.
This site spells out the rights of union members under the Beck decision:
A decade ago, the U. S. Supreme Court established what are now known as "Beck rights" in the landmark decision Communication Workers v. Beck.1 Beck rights dictate that workers cannot be forced under union contracts to pay any dues or fees beyond those necessary for the performance of the union's employee representation duties.
In other words, any worker who objects to his union's use of his dues money for purposes not directly related to collective bargaining is entitled to a refund of that portion of his dues. Beck rights are a triumph of individual rights over the political weight of union leaders.
Although the Beck rights of union workers are well established as a matter of American labor policy, they go largely unrealized in practice for the following four reasons:
Most workers simply do not know that they have these rights;
Workers who are aware of these rights are forced to make the sometimes-untenable choice of resigning from their union in order to exercise them;
Workers do not have recourse to an effective legal enforcement mechanism if their Beck rights are denied them by their employer or union; and
Unions, who don't agree with the exercise of Beck rights, often engage in a variety of tactics to delay and frustrate workers who wish to limit their dues payments.