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Teachers' lessons on union dues

October 23, 2008

Re "Shortchanging teachers," Opinion, Oct. 18

If Larry Sand wants to think of himself as a modern-day Paul Revere, good for him. He can even wear a tri-corner hat if he wants. But to call teachers' union dues "taxation without representation" borders on the ridiculous.

As a UTLA and AFT member, I have representation at many levels, from my school up through the state and national levels. Do I agree with everything my representatives do? Of course not, just as I don't always agree with my city councilman or state senator.

I have the right to voice my opinion or even run for office. That doesn't sound much like a monarchy to me.

Greg Feezell

Long Beach

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I agree with Sand that teachers unions do not always fairly represent their members. This is one reason I am an agency fee payer instead of a union member.

I pay the same monthly dues that every union member pays, and I receive the same pay and benefits. I wouldn't receive any help from a union lawyer if I needed it, and there are some programs I can't sign up for, but I don't count those as important minuses.

The huge plus of being an agency fee payer is that I get a refund of the percentage of my dues that is being used for political purposes. It is not a small refund. I would bet that the majority of union members don't have a clue as to how much of their dues go to political causes and candidates.

I would urge all teachers to become agency fee payers if they don't agree with the way the union spends their dues. Then the union might pay more attention to its members.

Susan Sherman

Covina

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I have some advice for Sand: Move to Arizona and see just how "positive" a union-free environment can be.

When I moved to Arizona, I was appalled to find that teachers are treated like chattel, given few if any rights and paid much less than they would make in California. The quaint little public school down the road from us is only open four days a week because funding is so low that they can't afford to teach the children that fifth day.

I do not teach in Arizona. My pension from California is adequate and my life is good ... thanks to my unions, which fought for my rights and my security.

The utter ignorance that is shown by some teachers who enjoy all the benefits of a unionized environment and still attack the very source of their strength and vitality as a profession is staggering.

Bill Purkiss

Meadview, Ariz.

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