- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Apart from their utter failure to educate the vast majority of their students in large urban school systems, the biggest outrage perpetrated by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers is to charge their members exorbitant union dues, spend relatively nothing negotiating labor contracts and then pour tens of millions of surplus dues dollars into election campaigns of Democratic Party members. Once elected, Democrats return the favor by pouring billions of taxpayer dollars down the public school rathole. The victimized urban school children never manage to learn much, but lots of the public loot finds its way into the pockets of the teachers who can't, or don't, teach.
As it happens, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits union officials from forcing any employee to provide financial support to a union if doing so conflicts with that employee's sincerely held religious beliefs. Instead, federal law permits the portion of the union dues unrelated to collective bargaining to be donated to the employee's favorite charity. In 1995, after the NEA-affiliated Ohio Education Association (OEA) had adopted policies involving abortion and homosexuality that violated his religious beliefs, Dennis Robey petitioned to have his dues donated to Habitat for Humanity. An industrial arts teacher for 25 years outside Dayton, Mr. Robey, a former union representative, had finally had enough of the union's strident lurch to the left. In 1999, the OEA required Mr. Robey to fill out a form detailing the policies that violated his beliefs. It took the OEA 11 months to approve Mr. Robey's request to divert his dues to Habitat. The next year, he was required to fill out yet another form and that was before the disposition of the previous year's request had been determined.
Given the union's obvious efforts to make it as difficult as possible for Mr. Robey to force the union to comply with federal law, he enlisted the support of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. With the foundation's help, Mr. Robey pursued his rights by filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which ruled in September 2000 that the 11-month delay had been unreasonable and that the OEA could no longer force Mr. Robey to file annual written forms detailing his objections.
This month the EEOC issued a formal ruling criticizing the NEA, its Ohio affiliate and a local chapter. "The evidence obtained during the investigation establishes a violation of a federal statute has occurred," Michael Fetzer, EEOC's district director, informed the NEA in a May 13 letter. Mr. Fetzer also ruled that requiring Mr. Robey or others to file an annual form "has a disparate impact on individuals who [have] sincerely held religious beliefs that conflict with various union activities." In other words, the NEA had violated Mr. Robey's civil rights and the civil rights of other religious employees whom the NEA harassed over the disposition of union dues. If the NEA doesn't cease and desist, the EEOC let it be known that the matter would be pursued in court. Too bad the NEA can't be taken to court for its failure to educate millions of children.

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