To Be Unionized or Not?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

As most of you know by now, I am a teacher and I have been teaching for a total of seven years.  For the first four years of my teaching career, I paid to be a part of a union.  I really didn't make the choice on my own, but I was just told that I needed to be a part of a union.  So, I signed up.  The last 3 years, I had realized that I really didn't need to be a part of a union and I dropped out.  So, I am a non-union teacher.

The supreme court decision on March 30th caught my attention, because I am a teacher that does not want to be a part of a union.  The decision ended in a tie and therefore, the ruling then falls back on the lower court decision.  The lower court decided that people should have to pay a "fair share" due even if they are not part of a union.  The teachers involved in the case don't believe that they should have to pay to the union, because the union does not represent their political views.  

Luckily, I live Texas and Texas has the right-to-work law.  This law protects employees from threats, force, intimidation, or coercion for either choosing to participate or not participate.  Therefore, I believe this decision by the Supreme Court does not affect Texas, because Texas does not have the "fair share due."  The ruling only affects California and any other state that requires non-union teachers to pay a fair share due.

Therefore, I am happy to note that my decision to become a non-union teacher will not be affected by this decision at the current time.  I made this decision because of three things.  First, financially the union was taking $541 a year in dues.  That's a lot of money that could go towards paying down debt or saving money.  Too often teachers complain that they don't have enough money, but they don't realize that the union is gouging their pocket books.  Secondly, I don't really share the same political views as the union and I didn't think that it was right to fund their political aspirations.  During election years, I would constantly get phone calls telling me to do something politically that I opposed.  It got annoying and I realized that my money was funding politics that I didn't agree with.  

Lastly in December of 2013, a union in Michigan tried to get a teacher a $10,000 severance pay even after the teacher was convicted of sexually molesting a student.  Part of the union dues are to help protect teachers if they get into a lawsuit from the parents.  These lawsuits that a union is there to protect should be minimal, not protecting a teacher who committed a criminal offense.  I thought that the Michigan Union made a bad decision.

By becoming a non-union teacher, I have decided to self-insure.  This means that I made the decision to act professionally as a teacher.  I am taking a risk that a parent could file a lawsuit against me, but I believe in myself and my professionalism that I won't do something stupid.

People complain a lot about the fact that teacher pay is low and the fact that they don't have enough money.  As a teacher, add all of the money that you have paid to a union over the course of your career.  That is a small fortune, especially if you have been working for 40 years.  Let's look at a few calculations to see what could happen if you just invested $541 a year.  To do this, I am going to use the rule created by Mr. Money Mustache.

“- to calculate a weekly expense compounded over ten years, multiply the price by 752
- for a monthly expense, multiply by 173”
— Mr. Money Mustache

This formula will give us the value of the money that you are spending and how much it would be in 10 years, if you invested it instead of spending it.  So, let's take the $541 a year and divide it out monthly.  That gives you a monthly expense of $45.08.  Now, we multiply by 173.  That gives me $7,799.42.  Now, that I have gotten rid of a $541 expense, that means I can invest $541 every year and that will make me $7,799 richer in ten years.  To me, that's a good enough reason to self-insure.  You could do this with any expense.  If you get rid of it, then you could invest more monthly.  Take your TV.  Get rid of cable and start using netflix and sling.  That could easily save you another $50 and in ten years that would give you another $7,000.  That's a total of $14,000.  We have only cut out two expenses.

Since this is a financial blog, I always have to bring it back to money.  Getting rid of the union dues was a big way to add extra money towards a secure financial future.  As MMM portrays very well, a millionaire can be made ten bucks at a time, by just cutting lot's of expenses each month.  He details how you can become a millionaire in as little as ten years by just finding those extra ten dollars.  Dropping union dues was one decision that I have found to save a little more money and personally I believe that every union worker should have the option to choose whether they spend their money on union dues or not.

Contact the writer here, or follow him on twitter @summitofcoin.