Can States From Which Families With Schoolkids Are Fleeing in Droves Be Good Places For Teachers?

This weekend teacher union officials in Washington, D.C., and in states where government-sector forced union dues are now permissible, will likely be worrying about what the U.S. Supreme Court will do in the Harris v. Quinn case, in which a decision is expected Monday, June 30.

Potentially, the eight Illinois home health caregivers who are the plaintiffs in Harris and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys who are representing them could secure a decision overturning the High Court’s previous determination, made 37 years ago in Abood v. Detroit Public Schools, that forced union dues and fees are constitutionally permissible, even though they infringe on employees’ freedom of association.

The teacher and other government union bosses who wrote briefs urging the Supreme Court not to overturn Abood’s core finding insist, of course, that they zealously defend their prerogative to get public servants fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to a union they don’t want because that’s what’s best for employees.  But the facts cast doubt on this claim.  Age-segregated population data regularly published by the U.S. Census Bureau and updated yesterday (see the link below) furnish a compelling example with regard to teachers in particular.

The Census Bureau data show that, nationwide, the U.S. K-12 school-aged population grew by just 0.8% from 2003 to 2013, an increase far below the overall population growth.

But this increase was far from evenly distributed.  Fourteen states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming) chalked up school-aged population gains of 4% or more over the past decade.  Thirteen of the 14 have one thing in common:  a Right to Work law on the books protecting employees from forced union dues.  And even Colorado, the sole exception, does not permit compulsory unionism in the public sector.

Meanwhile, 17 states (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin) suffered school-aged population losses for 2003-2013 of 3% or more.  Fifteen of these states lacked Right to Work protections for employees for the entire decade.  Michigan adopted a Right to Work law only in 2013.  The only state with a Right to Work law on the books to suffer a loss of greater than 3% is Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Louisiana!

Overall, the school-aged population of the 22 states that have had Right to Work laws on the books continuously since 2003 grew by 8.7%, compared to an aggregate 4.0% decline for the 26 states that lacked Right to Work laws for the whole decade.

If forced-unionism states are doing such a poor job of creating good economic opportunities for families with schoolchildren that they are fleeing them in droves, can they really be good places for teachers?  It’s long past time for teacher union bosses to address that question, but the newly-released Census Bureau population data afford them a new opportunity.

As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger, Census Bureau Reports