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Commonwealth Foundation


Harrisburg's Most Powerful Special Interest

New policy brief addresses the impact of unions on public education


by Policy Brief
 

NEWS RELEASE from the Commonwealth Foundation
11.12.08

Harrisburg's Most Powerful Special Interest
New policy brief addresses the impact of unions on public education

HARRISBURG, PA – The Commonwealth Foundation today released Pennsylvania State Education Association: Compelling Teachers, Marginalizing Students, Lobbying Politicians Increasing Taxes, a policy brief detailing how the state's most powerful union has politicized public education.

Since its inception in 1852, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) has evolved into one of the wealthiest, largest, and most politically active labor unions in the Commonwealth. It currently boasts over 185,500 members, 281 full-time employees, and an annual income over $84 million from compulsory dues payments and other sources.

"While ostensibly an advocate for teachers and the education of children, the PSEA's lobbying, financial, and political agendas extend well beyond the classroom," said Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation. "The results of the PSEA's activities include higher property taxes, severe restrictions on teachers' freedom, and fewer options for parents and students."

The policy brief describes how the labor union's success depends on its ability to: (1) organize employees into collective bargaining units and secure compulsory dues agreements from school boards; (2) influence legislation by financially supporting, electing, and lobbying officials at every level of government; and (3) secure increasingly larger amounts of taxpayer money for public schools and the PSEA itself.

The impact of the PSEA's activities–such as lobbying, political donations, and teacher strikes–on public policy, state and local elections, and taxes are highlighted in the brief. The publication also addresses compulsory unionism, which allows unions to force employees to join or pay dues to a labor organization as a condition of employment. Pennsylvania is not among the twenty-two states that have a right-to-work law protecting teachers from union coercion.

The policy brief offers several policy solutions that place the interests of children, parents, and teachers over union officials' agendas. These suggestions include passing a right-to-work law, enacting paycheck protection, and prohibiting teacher strikes.

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Editor's Note: The policy brief, Pennsylvania State Education Association: Compelling Teachers, Marginalizing Students, Lobbying Politicians Increasing Taxes, is available at CommonwealthFoundation.org.

The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.

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CONTACT: Matthew J. Brouillette or Joe Sterns at 717.671.1901


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