Press Release


Defense of Freedom Institute Launches Teacher Unions Accountability Project

Calls on parents, teachers, and other student advocates to join the fight

WASHINGTON—The Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI) today launched the Teacher Unions Accountability Project after its new report, released this morning, confirms that teacher unions were the “primary opponents” to safely reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Despite the false claim by one union leader in March 2021 that her union had been “trying to reopen schools since last April,” DFI’s report demonstrates that it was actually unrealistic union bargaining demands and extremist policy agendas that prevented students from safely returning to the classroom.

“Union leaders are on a PR campaign to gaslight the American people and distract from their role in the prolonged, often unnecessary school lock-outs over a year and a half,” said DFI co-founder Jim Blew. “Their motivations for wanting to rewrite history are understandable, given the harm done to our students and classroom teachers during the school closures. But facts are facts. Labor leaders used the pandemic to advance union interests, regardless of the impact on students, families, and sometimes the very teachers those labor leaders purportedly represent.”  

DFI’s new report was compiled by Mike Antonucci, an investigative reporter and director of the Education Intelligence Agency. It captures some of the most outrageous union demands for reopening schools, including:

  • Defunding the police
  • A moratorium on new public charter schools
  • $1 billion to hire an estimated 10,000 new union employees in New York City schools
  • “Medicare for All”
  • Wealth and millionaire taxes

The California Teachers Association summarized the union’s tactics best: “When exercising a ‘get for the give’ approach to bargaining concessions, locals should consider strengthening or implementing consultation procedures language in the [collective bargaining agreement].  Now is the time to secure [contract] language improvements that we have wanted for some time.”

Meanwhile, schools and districts safely reopened when they were not heavily controlled by union influence.  In Florida, for example, CDC researchers found that, for the semester that ran from August through December 2020, fewer than 1 percent of students developed school-related COVID and that “resumption of in-person education was not associated with a proportionate increase in COVID-19 among school-aged children.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos added, “Union bosses showed every parent their true colors during this pandemic. They focused not on reopening schools but on advancing radical left causes, most with no connection to education whatsoever. Parents know firsthand the incalculable damage that union politicking and draconian school closures had on their kids.  Parents are demanding better, and they deserve better. No one’s child should ever again be held hostage to the radical political agendas of union leaders.” 

To read the full report, Teacher Union Resistance to Reopening Schools:  An Examination of the Largest U.S. School Districts, click here. To learn more about DFI and its work, visit