The author of a recent opinion piece, “Teachers deserve ‘paycheck protection’ from union abuses,” claims to head up a group that looks out for the best interests of educators, but his thoughts express his support for a proposal that stands to violate their First Amendment rights.

Living in a right-to-work state, Louisiana public school employees are given a choice on whether to join a union.

How they pay their membership dues is also their decision and many opt to have this cost deducted directly from their paychecks — the same option is available for other voluntary deductions like insurance, retirement and charitable donations.

With all the other stresses that come with working full time in a public school, this is a simple convenience that takes a task off an already-full plate. Removing this accessibility makes it harder for educators to maintain membership in the union of their choice. This contributes to the silencing of an important voice representing those who work in public schools with our children every day.

The author of the referenced article uses the term “payroll protection” — this is nothing more than a deceptive buzzword created to make it appear as though the proposal he supports ensures an employee’s right to payroll dues deduction. It actually does the opposite.

Removing this right robs school employees of their freedoms of speech and association. It appears as though this organization leader has lost sight of the group’s reason for existence — to advocate for hard-working school employees.

I’m a member of the LAE. I pay $54 a month for my membership.

This cost is worth it to me because I’m part of a group that makes sure those in charge of implementing policies for my profession understand how those policies influence my work and my students.

It is my sincere hope that lawmakers consider the implications of such an ill-conceived idea.

I urge them to support any initiative to maintain this simple right, not only for Louisiana’s school employees, but for every worker in this state.

Diane Vickers

elementary school teacher

Baton Rouge