‘Big Labor Picked the Wrong Guy to Bully’

ROTC Instructor Wins Small Victory Over Teacher Union Bosses

(Source: July 2010 NRTWC Newsletter)

According to the most recent available federal data, there are roughly 73,000 public elementary and secondary schoolteachers in Massachusetts.

Reportedly, more than 99% of these educators must allow the agents of a single teacher union to negotiate with their employer over matters of pay, benefits and working conditions if they wish to continue working at a public school.

And the vast majority of Bay State teachers under union monopoly bargaining are also compelled to fork over dues or fees to their “exclusive” union bargaining agent, or be fired.

However, as they recently demonstrated, top bosses of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA/NEA) union and its affiliates aren’t content with extracting forced union dues and fees from the vast majority of teachers in the state.

The fact that even one teacher is working in a public school without paying tribute is enough to set them off.

For 14 years, retired U.S. Marine Maj. Stephen Godin has vexed the bosses of the MTA-affiliated Education Association of Worcester (EAW) union by serving as a junior ROTC instructor at North High School without paying them for the privilege.

‘It Just Seems Crazy That They’re Gonna Fire Me Over $500’

This spring, EAW union President Cheryl DelSignore and her lieutenants apparently decided the time had come to crack down on the major. They told him by mail that, by June 15, he would either have to join the union and begin paying dues, or pay a $500 annual nonmember “agency” fee, or they would inform the school district that it had to fire him.

The EAW union brass didn’t care that the senior naval science instructor’s case is truly exceptional. His salary is set by the U.S. military, which never bargains with union negotiators over the amount. Half his salary and all of his benefits are paid for by the military.

Incredibly, Ms. DelSignore has contended that Mr. Godin and other JRTOC instructors “owe” the union because it “permits” them to be on the military pay scale, rather than the union-negotiated one!

But Stephen Godin wouldn’t be extorted, and he wouldn’t quit his job, either. Instead, he took the threatening teacher union letter to the Worcester and Boston media and cried foul.

“It just seems crazy that they’re gonna fire me over $500,” Mr. Godin told the Boston Herald in an interview.

Mr. Godin was in contact with National Right to Work Foundation attorneys as he plotted his strategy for fighting back.

Once Mr. Godin’s story was reported in the media, state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield), who is running for lieutenant governor this year, recognized that the major’s cause was a popular one.

Junior ROTC Teachers Are Far From Alone in Not Benefiting From Unionism

Almost immediately, Mr. Tisei began pressing the state Legislature to enact a measure protecting high school ROTC instructors’ Right to Work without being forced to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union.

At first, the MTA union hierarchy and its puppets in the Legislature fought Mr. Tisei’s measure, but they soon recognized they were suffering far too much PR damage over a relatively minuscule amount of forced dues and fees. They then backed down and allowed the measure to become law.

“Maj. Godin deserves commendation for his principled stand and his personal victory,” commented National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen. “Big Labor picked the wrong guy to bully.

“Unfortunately, there are, no doubt, thousands of other talented and hard-working teachers in Massachusetts who don’t want a union, and don’t benefit from having one, but continue to be forced to pay union dues, or be fired. Protecting junior ROTC instructors’ Right to Work is but a small first step in the right direction.”