In today’s piece for the Civitas Institute, I discuss how an upcoming audit, required by state law, could spell disaster for the North Carolina Association of Educators:
Under North Carolina law, the NCAE receives a state-administered benefit informally referred to as the “dues check off.” This is where members’ dues can be withheld from their paychecks and paid directly to the organization by employers. This way, members do not have to pull out their pocketbooks to write a check, and the NCAE spends less money than it otherwise would processing membership fees.
Technically, the dues check off is considered an assignment of a state employee’s claim against the state. So, the state employee has a “claim” in the form of their salary, and they “assign” a portion of that claim to the NCAE. Such assignments are void unless otherwise explicitly authorized by statute. The assignment better known as the “dues check off” is authorized in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143B-426.40A(g), which states as follows:
An employee of any local board of education who is a member of a domiciled employees’ association that has at least 40,000 members, the majority of whom are public school teachers, may authorize in writing the periodic deduction each payroll period from the employee’s salary or wages a designated lump sum or sums to be paid for dues and voluntary contributions for the employees’ association.
So, the statute confers a right not on the NCAE, but rather on its members. It allows them to designate a portion of their salary as membership dues.
While the right is conferred on the employees, the validity of the assignment still turns on the NCAE’s membership numbers. The organization must have at least 40,000 members, and a majority of these members must be public school teachers. While this requirement has been in effect since July 1, 2007, the statute lacked any meaningful enforcement mechanism – until now.