One Pueblo 70 Union Contract Better than Two for Ending Unjust Opt-Out Policy?

The Pueblo Chieftain reports that Pueblo County School District 70 has combined its two union bargaining agreements into one:

The district’s board on Tuesday night approved a single contract with the Pueblo County Teachers Association and the Association of Classified Employees.

In at least one respect the move makes sense, because the two contracts contain a similar unjust and burdensome requirement. Both the district’s non-union teachers and classified employees have to file a written form each year within a narrow time frame to opt out of paying a full year of union dues. As a 2008 Independence Institute op-ed points out, the onerous policy affects real people:

For a few days last September, Pueblo public school librarian Becky Robertson was so busy attending to her family that she missed the brief window of opportunity. Her husband had been forced to take a medical retirement due to the early onset of Parkinsons Disease, which caused a drastic fall in their household income. Her son struggled with juvenile diabetes and Hibernia disease.

During this trying time, Robertson forgot to mail a letter allowing her to opt out of paying union dues for the year. She never has been a union member, but the school district contract with the union requires nonmember teachers to submit a letter every year in order to be exempt from the fees. She had opted out for the past five years. Although the money clearly was needed to care for her family, the funds automatically were deducted from her paycheck as a service provided to special interest groups by the government.

I haven’t seen the new contract yet, but there’s no reason to believe the opt-out policy would have changed without any publicity. Maybe, though, it now will be easier for determined and conscientious policy makers to remove the unjust provision from one contract than from two.