School/education (263650)
School/education Credit: Pixabay

The largest non-union, professional educators’ organization doubled job protection benefits for members without raising dues.

The Association of American Educators, a national non-union professional educators association, announced that it is doubling job protection benefits for members without raising dues. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case, AAE officials believe that more public school educators and staff are expected to explore their professional association options.

“Professional members encountering workplace issues contact our legal services department to activate their policy,” said Sharon Nelson, AAE’s director of Legal Services, in a statement. “They work with a local attorney. Many of these matters are resolved before or at the hearing, at which point a member has received thousands of dollar’s worth of legal services. In fact, because the policy is in the member’s name, coverage does not require an approval by AAE staff, which is as close to guaranteed coverage as it gets.”

AAE officials stated that throughout their careers, educators experience workplace issues that threaten job security and reputation. Membership in the group includes employment rights coverage for members experiencing termination, demotion, involuntary transfer, suspension or other disciplinary actions. The doubling of each of the three levels of job protection now covers up to $10,400 in legal fees, paid via the insurance policy to defend each member’s due process rights.

The AmNews asked AAE officials what makes them different from a traditional union. As of press time we were still waiting for an answer.

“AAE was founded to provide quality professional benefits so that students aren’t losing great teachers to misunderstandings, false accusations, or petty issues,” added AAE Founder and President Gary Beckner in a statement. “AAE’s employment rights coverage is a shield against very real threats to a member’s entire career.”

According to AAE officials, each member receives an individual $2 million educator liability insurance policy to cover damages as well as defend against claims. The policy has no aggregate. The policy also includes up to $35,000 to protect a member’s teaching license and up to $50,000 to defend a member against criminal sexual misconduct charges, as long as they’re found not guilty.

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus vs. AFSCME case. The case decided whether public sector employees had to pay union dues. Janus sued to discontinue paying dues, stating that it violated his First Amendment rights.

AAE’s Executive Vice President Colin Sharkey praised the court’s ruling.

“AAE’s members have been vocal about the indignity of forced unionism and we celebrate today’s ruling with them,” said Sharkey in a statement. “Teachers will now be able to teach without having to give part of their paycheck to a union they do not wish to support. We have always believed that teachers should be empowered to make the decision that is right for them when it comes to union membership. Today, the Supreme Court has affirmed the rights of all educators and restored teacher freedom.”