CTEN's Frequently Asked Questions:
Is CTEN an anti-union organization?
No, we're not. We are progressive in the belief that unions should be responsive and accountable to their membership.
Will joining CTEN cost me any money?
How do I know CTEN's information is credible?
are here to provide reliable information from various sources,
including those outside the unions, to help you make informed
decisions. We have no reason to mislead you.
Is CTEN's information for all teachers?
Yes. The information provided here should be of value to all of California 's teachers, regardless of union affiliation.
Do you have a political agenda?
We are a group of fellow teachers who have recognized that there is an
information gap that short circuits the democratic process within the
teachers unions. We aim to fill that gap. Our members represent a
diversity of political viewpoints and backgrounds.
Which union option should I exercise - remain a member, become an agency fee payer, or become a religious objector?
CTEN is not an advocacy group so we can't answer that question. Only you can
decide whether or not leaving the union is the right thing to do. We're
here to make sure you have as much information as possible, so you can
make an informed choice.
What is the difference between an agency fee payer and a religious/conscientious objector?
There are two ways to resign from the union. You can become a religious/conscientious objector or an agency fee payer.
become a religious objector, you must demonstrate a sincere religious
objection to union membership. Church membership is not a requirement.
Under federal law (Title VII), you will not be required to pay any
money at all to the union. You are, however, required to pay an amount
equal to union dues to a union-approved charity. This requirement is
included in contract language to prevent union members from using this
provision to opt out of the union merely to save money. You will need
to write a letter to your local union stating your sincere religious
beliefs. Please contact the National Right to Work 800-336-3600
for free legal advice.
option you have is that of an agency fee payer. If your employer
recognizes a union as an exclusive bargaining agent, the union is
legally required to represent you whether or not you remain a union member .
In order to pay the union for such representation, you are required by
law to pay an "agency fee." An agency fee is a percentage of dues that
the union determines is the amount it costs the union to represent you
before your employer in the areas of bargaining, contract
administration, and grievances.
Am I allowed to be a member of only my local bargaining union?
Many teachers would be happy to support their local union but not
necessarily their state and national affiliates. However, NEA/CTA and
AFT/CFT don't allow that option. Since the early 1970's, the national
and state unions have required union members to be members at all
levels-local, state, and national. If your local union is a member of
the state union, then so are you.
What are some of the reasons why teachers quit the union?
teacher has his or her own reasons for leaving the union. Some think
the union dues are unreasonable, especially when compared to the dues
of other unions. Some have political disagreements with union
positions, and some have religious objections to union stances. And
some just don't like being told they have no choice, that they have to
be a paying member of the union as a condition of their employment!
What are the pros and cons of quitting the union?
you are a religious objector, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing
that none of your money will go to the union at all, but you will have
to donate an amount equal to full union dues to a union-approved
charity. If you become an agency fee payer, you'll receive about 1/3 of
your union dues back each year. You'll also have the peace of mind that
comes with knowing you're doing what, in your opinion, is the right
thing to do. Your union is still required to represent you and your
interests (negotiations, grievances, etc.), and the hundreds of dollars
a year that you'll continue to pay in "agency fees" are payment for
these services and representation.
are costs associated with leaving the union, however. You will not be
allowed to hold union office. You will not have any voting rights in
the union - probably not even on your own contract! You will lose the
union's liability coverage should you ever get sued, and if you need
legal representation, the union will not pay for it. However,
the dues money refunded to agency fee payers is more than enough to
secure other legal coverage, which is frequently superior to the union
coverage. For example, see here. http://www.aaeteachers.org/insurance.shtml or http://www.ceai.org/benefits.htm.
Should I decide to do so, what steps do I have to take in order to quit the union?
you decide to quit the union for religious/conscientious reasons, call
the National Right to Work Foundation at 800-336-3600.
If you decide to quit the union for other reasons and opt to become an agency fee payer, go to (Our "Do you know... link).
I feel that if I quit the union, I'll be "alone". Are there other groups or organizations that can help me?
course there are, and you're at the web site of one of them! CTEN
doesn't just give information that union members can use, we also
provide support, camaraderie, bulletins, and updates to our members.
Association of American Educators (http://www.aaeteachers.org)
is a professional organization. It's not a union, but among other
benefits it does provide liability protection for teachers who opt out
of the union.
Christian Educators Association International (http://www.ceai.org) is another professional organization which has a faith-based focus.
I would like to stay in the union and try to change things from within. How can I do that?
members can run in local union elections to participate in local, state
or national representative bodies. There, they can speak out on issues
before union decisions are made and ask questions that will hold union
leaders more accountable to members.