Today's decision to end unions' ability to collect "agency fees" from nonconsenting employees puts the onus squarely on teachers union leaders to demonstrate relevance and value to today's teachers. Union leaders should use this decision as an opportunity to revisit the reforms they've long resisted. It is a time to step back and look at where the teaching profession is today and where it needs to go instead of how things worked in the past. This is a powerful opportunity for union leaders to hit the reset button and show their members and the public that the number one priority is putting effective teachers in the best position to provide students with a quality education.
Union leaders in this sector have too often confused their protection and advocacy for some members with their obligation to the profession at large. The two are not the same and are often at cross purposes. Therefore, in many ways this decision represents an opportunity for union leaders to critically assess past decisions, putting first the broader interests of the profession and our education system.
While this decision will require unions to obtain affirmative consent from teachers prior to collecting funds, in our view it does not hearken the demise of teachers unions. Despite the financial implications of this decision, collective bargaining will continue for the foreseeable future to play an important role in shaping teacher policies. We encourage union leaders to use this moment to breathe new life into the teaching profession, which will ensure that teachers will be even more engaged in the future.