REPORT: Teacher Unions Unlawfully Collecting Dues?

Are Rhode Island Teacher Unions Unlawfully Collecting Dues?
Unconstitutional Provisions Discovered in Many CBAs
School District Employees Not Being Informed of Their Rights

Providence, RI – A report released today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity detailed how over 1-in-4 reviewed school district Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA), put into place since the landmark2018 Janus v AFSCME US Supreme Court decision, contained provisions that directly defy constitutional law.

In 2018, the highest court in America ruled that public employees must retain power over their own paychecks. Yet, since then, many government unions in Rhode Island may have unlawfully collected dues from employees by propagating misleading language in their CBAs and failing to notify its own members of their rights.

As such, it is clear that for over three years, many teachers and other school staff may have been fraudulently deceived into pay union dues or fees. According to the Mackinac Center in Michigan, experts in legal and policy matters related to public employee unions, Rhode Island’s rate of CBA non-compliance with Janus may be the highest in America.

The report details clear violations among 10 local school districts in their recent CBAs with local chapters of the NEA, AFT, and AFSCME. The types of unconstitutional and unenforceable provisions found in these contracts, in place for years after the 2018 Supreme Court ruling, can be summarized as including passages that:

  • Require automatic deduction of dues or fees from employee paychecks without their expressed consent
  • Require payment of dues or fees as a condition of employment
  • Limit the union opt-out time-window for employees

Whether teachers and other school staff were purposefully or inadvertently deceived, the discovery of these unlawful provisions might explain why Rhode Island public employees, since 2018, have opted out of paying union dues at rates far below their counterparts in other states; rates detailed in the report.

“Once again, we see the pattern of state and local government officials conducting the bidding of public sector unions; this time school committee members and staff, whether wittingly or not,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “These illicit practices by government unions have led to their own enrichment at the expense of the constitutional rights of their own members.”

Public employees who wish to further understand their rights – and consider opting-out of paying dues to unions whose national associations use the money to support radical school curricula such as critical race theory – can visit

The report also lists serious questions that must be asked in light of these alarming findings, such as: Did school committee members knowingly turn a blind eye towards this malfeasance, or were they completely ignorant of these obvious violations? AND How can high-paid school committee solicitors allow such obviously unconstitutional language to be included in recent CBAs?

The Center expects to conduct further review of CBAs with non-teacher public employee unions to determine how widespread this phenomenon might be in the Ocean State.

Additional public employee union information published by the Center can be viewed at

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