I know — since we posted a teaser a few weeks ago — you have all been anxiously awaiting this day that marks the beginning of National Employee Freedom Week! The Arkansas Project and our affiliate organization Advance Arkansas Institute are proud to be participating in this week-long effort to spread the message of employment freedom, in conjunction with the Nevada Policy Research Institute.
What is employee freedom? Quite simply, it’s the freedom to work without being required to join a union or face union penalties for failing to join. In fact, you may not know that every employee has the freedom to opt-out of their union.
Arkansas is a “right-to-work” state, which of course means no one can be denied employment for refusing to join a union. But even in states like ours, employees can have a difficult time breaking free from unions that spread misinformation that leaving the union means losing benefits (which are completely unrelated to union membership, such as health insurance), unions have drop dates or drop windows limiting when their members can leave, and employees have a hard time finding out about the process to leave.
In non-right-to-work states, workers have the ability to become an agency fee payer: under the 1988 Supreme Court decision Communications Workers of America v. Beck, every member of a union is entitled to a full refund of his or her dues that are not directly used for representing the member. In addition, any employee can opt-out of a union based on a sincerely held religious belief and become a “conscientious objector.”
Of course there are advantages to union membership, such as greater employee benefits and cost savings — but unions are not the only conduit for these additional services. In fact, they likely aren’t even the best conduit, since large percentages of their revenues go to political activity, not member enrichment. For teachers, the Association of American Educators is a strong, alternative organization — and they even have a chapter in Arkansas, the Arkansas State Teachers Association.
Thank you for taking some time today to learn more about employee freedom. If you’d like to learn even more, you can visit the NEFW website. Also, stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook accounts where we will be sharing infographics and other statistics about employee freedom throughout the week.
Enjoy your National Employee Freedom Week. It won’t last forever.