Baton Rouge, Louisiana – The United States and Louisiana Constitutions guarantee religious and political freedom to all citizens, but a new report from the Pelican Institute reveals that collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) between state teachers’ unions and local public school systems in Louisiana curtail the rights of school employees. And, incredibly, some agreements grant union members school choice, all while state teachers’ unions oppose school choice for every other family in the state.

In Rights Trampled: Uncovering the Truth about Louisiana Teachers’ Union Contracts, Pelican Institute General Counsel Sarah Harbison details how public records requests uncovered provisions in CBAs that violate the First Amendment rights of those bound by them and guarantee their members the very privileges that the unions work so hard to deny other Louisianians.

These agreements, which govern the working relationship between public employees and their employers, curtail teachers’ First Amendment rights by making it difficult to resign from the union or learn about competing organizations that provide similar benefits to school employees. Incredibly, these contracts are negotiated in secret and remain in place for years, sometimes decades. Members and non-members alike are bound by them if their job title is included in the bargaining unit as defined by the agreement.

“Louisiana’s hardworking public school teachers and other employees shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens, but that’s exactly what’s happening under collective bargaining agreements,” Harbison said. “These unconscionable agreements restrict teachers’ First Amendment rights, force them to be members of unions against their will, make it difficult to resign from the union, and even prevent them from learning about competing organizations that provide similar benefits to school employees.”

In addition to trampling teachers’ First Amendment rights, the Pelican Institute found that CBAs at two Louisiana school systems grant union members who are parents the opportunity to select a different school that fits their children. Proponents of school choice believe that a child’s zip code shouldn’t determine their destiny. Unions seem to agree, but only if they bestow parents with that choice.

The new Pelican Institute report also provides a series of recommendations to restore public employees’ First Amendment rights and ensure all children in Louisiana can attend a school that fits.

“Organizations like unions should exist for the benefit of their members, not the other way around,” Harbison said. “Louisiana should adopt common sense policies that protect the First Amendment speech and associational rights of teachers who wish to belong to a union and those who do not, as well as the interests of taxpayers and the children whose future depends on having quality public schools.”

The Pelican Institute has proposed a series of reforms to improve education in Louisiana as part of its Comeback Agenda, including guaranteeing school choice so that every kid gets a school that fits. Read Pelican’s new report here and the Comeback Agenda here.

For questions, contact Sarah Harbison at or at 504-952-8016.