NWPE Serves on National Focus Panel on Non-Union Professional Educators Organizations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2005
Spokane, WA – Northwest Professional Educators Executive Director and former Spokane School District educator, Cindy Omlin, served on a national focus panel in Washington, D.C. for the Association of American Educators, a non-profit, non-union professional educators association that provides a voice for teachers who believe that the national teacher unions do not represent their viewpoints or beliefs. The purpose of the panel was to discuss the professional association needs of new millennial teachers--younger teachers who are currently entering the profession.
Jennifer Snyder, a Moses Lake High School ninth grade physical teacher and NWPE member, also participated in the panel. She has been teaching for four years.
Research has shown that younger teachers are less likely to join teacher unions. They want to be viewed as professionals, not labor union workers, and are more open-minded about school reform ideas such as performance pay that rewards teachers for improving student achievement.
Like most districts in Washington State, Spokane School District and Moses Lake School District require payment of dues to the union in order to teach. The National Education Association's (NEA) forced unified dues structure prohibits teachers from belonging to their local association unless they also belong to the Washington Education Association (WEA) and the NEA.
Says Snyder, “Today, most professionals don’t have union representation and, as a result, command better salaries and benefits. Younger teachers want personal, interactive choices that are responsive to individual needs.”
She added that teachers are attracted to the value and responsiveness of the non-union, professional educators associations, such as Northwest Professional Educators, that provide liability insurance, legal protection, and professional development at a fraction of the cost of union dues and without all the politics and confrontational tactics of the unions.
Teacher union dues can run as high as $900. Mrs. Snyder pays $169 in annual dues to the Northwest Professional Educators.
"The teacher of the new millennium is all about personal choice, freedom, and honoring individual differences," adds Mrs. Snyder.
Omlin, a former union member commented, "The NEA imposes a one-size-fits-all model on teachers that doesn't respect their values and differences. This not only hurts the profession of education, it is holding back innovative education reforms. Even veteran teachers are questioning the value and effectiveness of forced dues to a top-down union. They want local control, accountability and respect. They definitely don’t want to fear for their job because their politics differ from the union that is supposed to represent them.” (Omlin was sued by the WEA in 1997 for informing teachers about their rights and options. After unsuccessfully seeking to silence Omlin, WEA dropped the lawsuit.)
Omlin and Snyder were chosen to attend the national panel for their leadership in the independent, non-union professional educators' movement. Omlin is executive director and Snyder is a board member of Northwest Professional Educators (www.nwpe.org), a state partner of the Association of American Educators.