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9/5/2019
Opt out of KEA

EDITOR, Daily News:

Teachers: What could you do with an additional $1,123 dollars a year? And paraeducators, an additional $582 a year? You could save that money by not opting into the Ketchikan Educational Association. For those of you who appreciated the Trump tax cuts, here’s a way to put some more money in your paycheck.

The Supreme Court decision issued last year, called Janus v. Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, frees public employees from being compelled to join a union. The court made its ruling because unions engage in political speech and advocacy on a wide range of significant and often controversial issues both in collective bargaining and in political contexts. Until the Janus decision, however, public employees had no choice but to participate, effectively waiving their First Amendment rights of free speech by compelling the employees to pay dues to a union whose opinions they did not concur.

Wisely, Gov. Dunleavy directed the Department of Law to examine if Alaska was complying with the Janus decision. We were not. Instead the State was making teachers and paraeducators opt out of the union. Under Janus, educators must affirmatively opt in every year. Essentially, educators no longer have to donate to a union whose politics you may find morally reprehensible.

Why would you want to opt out of KEA? Because of its association with the National Education Association, which advocates on a wide range of issues you may not agree with such as vigorously supporting abortion under Roe V. Wade. Why? Doesn’t the NEA consider how weird it is to kill children — the purpose for public education? For that matter, why does the NEA take a stand on abortion at all?

The NEA also opposes most charter schools, homeschooling and private schools, which is odd for a group that calls themselves pro-choice. Apparently, choice does not apply to parents who want to choose their kids’ education.

Further, the NEA donates to causes associated with the Democrat party, and maybe you’re not a Democrat and don’t support those causes.

Besides, if you’re a paraeducator on probation, (your first 90 paid days — not calendar days — are probationary) forget getting help from the KEA, even if you’re wrongfully terminated. So, even if you’re a para and want to join the KEA, do it after your 90 paid days of work, which is probably sometime in January if you just started the school year, and by then you’ll have safely missed the sign-up window.

This whole affirmatively opting into the union comes at a busy time of year for educators. I hope you closely examine the many forms you have to sign and consider not opting into the KEA. They will have to zealously represent you anyway, but you’re probably better off doing it yourself.

KATHLEEN YARR

Ketchikan