Each year, teachers in Nevada can opt out of union membership; however, the opportunity to opt out is constrained to a two-week period (July 1-15) in the middle of their summer vacation — a time when few teachers are actively thinking about school-related activities. The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) runs an annual campaign called “Teacher Opt-Out,” now in its seventh year, to raise awareness for the opt-out period.
“The teachers’ union has done its best to make opting out of union membership as difficult as can be,” said NPRI Communication Director Michael Schaus. “Giving teachers a mere two weeks — in the middle of summer vacation no less — is hardly what someone would call accommodating.”
More than 5,000 teachers have chosen to leave their local affiliates of the Nevada State Education Association since NPRI began its annual awareness campaign. Each individual teacher who does decide to opt out saves hundreds of dollars in union fees annually. In addition to NPRI’s email and social media campaign, Teacher Opt-Out’s website provides opt-out letters for each county of Nevada.
“The bottom line is, Nevada is a state that allows workers to choose for themselves whether or not they want to be a part of the union,” said Schaus. “The only caveat is that teachers need to know how to do so — and let’s face it, the unions aren’t in a hurry to get that information to their members.”
NPRI built upon the success of Teacher Opt-Out by partnering with the Association of American Educators to establish “National Employee Freedom Week” in 2013, where 65 non-partisan organizations across 37 states worked together to raise awareness among union members about the options available to them regarding union membership. That coalition has since grown to 102 organizations in 42 states, including 44 Atlas Network partner organizations. This year’s iteration of National Employee Freedom Week will run from August 20-26.