Teacher Unions Work Out Dues Settlement

October 25, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The National Education Association (NEA) teachers union and three of its Ohio affiliates have agreed to accommodate members with religious objections to funding the group's political causes by paying dues.

According to a Washington Times news report, in a “conciliation agreement” issued by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), lawyers for the NEA, the Ohio Education Association, the Huber Heights Education Association and the Montpelier Education Association agreed they will handle requests from members who have religious differences in a “timely manner.”

They also agreed to help choose a charity to receive the objecting member’s dues and will require religious objectors to only register their disagreements once, the Times story said.

The agreement comes following pressure by the EEOC. In May, the EEOC found that the 2.4-million-member NEA violated the religious rights of members by subjecting them to invasive questionnaires when they sought to direct their dues toward a charity rather than the union’s political causes.

Chris Lopez, general counsel for the Ohio Education Association, denied the union forced anyone to fill out the questionnaire annually, and he denied claims that it is invasive, according to the Times. In fact, he said, the questionnaire will continue to be used but only once or twice, depending on circumstances.

Religious Questioning

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented a veteran Ohio teacher who said he was subjected to yearly interrogations about his religious beliefs, claimed he was the victim of religious discrimination and filed a complaint with the local EEOC.

According to the Times, lawyers for the Right to Work Foundation represented Dennis Robey, a high school industrial arts teacher in Huber Heights, Ohio, near Dayton.

In the 1995 school year, Robey discovered the NEA took positions that “violated his religious beliefs.”

The Times said Robey made arrangements with the Ohio Education Association – of which he is a member – to turn over the $400 a year he paid in union dues to a charity for the school years 1995-96 through 1998-99.

The Ohio Education Association then rebuffed   Robey’s religious objections to paying union dues, and the OEA demanded he describe his religious beliefs in detail each year, fill out a questionnaire and file it with the teachers union, the Times story said.