Measuring Teacher Union Power

Take the fifty states and the District of Columbia and measure the strength of their teachers’ union based on resources, political activity, state policies, and the perceived influence of power. That’s what a recent report by the Thomas Fordham Institute attempts to do. One of the key areas they focus on is collective bargaining: what is the legal treatment in the state? Are strikes legal? And can the union automatically deduct dues and collect agency fees from non-members?

With mandatory collective bargaining, no prohibition on teacher strikes, and permission to withhold and collect dues and fees, the Keystone state gets a ranking of fourth most powerful teachers’ union in the report. It was bested by Hawaii, Oregon, and Montana.

In the top ten strongest states, all have mandatory collective bargaining and all permit automatic dues deductions or agency fee collections. Two states-New York and New Jersey-prohibit teacher strikes and one, Washington, neither permits nor prohibits them.

Now look at the states ranked at the bottom (having the unions with the least amount of power). One state, Oklahoma, permits collective bargaining; in Florida it is mandatory, and in Arizona and Mississippi it is neither permitted nor prohibited. Only Louisiana permits strikes and South Carolina is silent on the issue. States in this group where collective bargaining is prohibited (Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, and South Carolina) also prohibit any type of dues deduction or fee collection.