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Teachers' Unions Profit While Kids Pick up the Tab

February 21, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis, Ben DeGrow

Corey A. DeAngelis and Ben DeGrow

This month’s
U.S. Supreme Court hearing
of Illinois state employee Mark
Janus’s case — questioning the constitutionality of mandatory
teachers union dues — could very well lead to a healthier
relationship between labor unions and government workers. And
what’s more, a growing body of research suggests many states could
also help their students in the long-run by making further
adjustments to labor union policy.

At stake in the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME case is a 40-year-old
precedent that allows governments to force state, municipal, and
school district employees to pay union agency fees as part of their
jobs. This is problematic when the values and priorities of union
leaders and individual members clash. Yet these forced payments are
the reality for government workers in 22 states, who could gain the
freedom to decide how to spend hundreds of dollars of their own
earnings each year.

But what happens when the interests of adults, including
education employees, are put before the children’s?


Recent research
presented at the 2018 Meeting of the American
Economic Association by Cornell University’s Michael Lovenheim and
Alexander Willen reveal that forcing school districts to engage in
collective bargaining with labor unions ends up harming
the students
they are supposed to serve. And, unfortunately,
the effects are large.

The impact examined by Lovenheim and Willen affects even more
states than those whose limits to employee freedom are under
scrutiny in the Janus case. Overall, 33 states are
considered “duty-to-bargain
states. Laws require school districts and other government bodies
to reach a formal binding agreement with a union representing some
or all of its employees through the collective bargaining
process.

The Cornell study finds that teachers union “duty-to-bargain”
laws reduce students’ future earnings by around $800 each
year and employment by half an hour per week. And of course, these
effects do not only harm the students. The researchers find that
collective bargaining reduces earnings nationally by about $200
billion each year.

That is nearly equivalent to the gross domestic product in the
entire state of Alabama in 2016. In other words, the effects found
in the study have an economic impact on the U.S. economy similar to
a halt of all productive activities coming from a state like
Alabama.

Lovenheim and Willen provide the first rigorous empirical
evidence that the past focus on building union power to protect
adult education employee interests has dragged down many of today’s
adults. Just as the growing national debt benefits current citizens while forcing future
generations to pick up the tab
, teachers union bargaining laws
steal wealth from future generations because of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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