Places without unions?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I feel like this might be a dumb question, but I truly don't understand. Not to be too political, but I notice in current anti-education rhetoric people are essentially blaming the teachers' unions for pretty much every perceived weakness with public education. Low test scores, our rank compared to other countries, school violence, you name it, it's the fault of those awful teachers' unions. We have a lot of school politics/reform nonsense in my area and this union thing is a CONSTANT rhetoric among the general public, even people that have nothing to do with education. "Break up the unions" is touted as the fix for absolutely everything. I have seen teachers on this board post that they have "no union." Forgive me for being dense, but does that truly mean some states have nothing? I work in a "right to work" state, but we still have unions. My understanding is that the difference is it's voluntary to join the union in my state, whereas in non right to work states, you have to join no matter what. Ours is also technically called an "association," but they seem to do the same types of things as unions in other states (contract negotiations, providing representation with unfair work situations, etc.) We don't have real "tenure" anymore, but my family members are teachers in OH, which is supposedly a "union state," and they don't either. In fact, my dad was telling me that the weak "non-probationary" status I have is better than what the younger (non-grandfathered in) teachers at his school have in OH. How many states truly have no union, no association, nothing at all? And if there are states that truly have nothing, how is the whole anti-union thing still even an argument (assuming schools in those states aren't performing better than union states)?
     
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  3. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Companion

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    I live in a right to work state and we have "professional associations" as well. Joining is voluntary. To date, I haven't found a lot of benefit of being a member, and I have sometimes wondered what things would be like in a union state- I'm extremely unfamiliar with them. Our association does offer to provide legal representation in the event of a lawsuit, but our state also guarantees legal support for employees anyway. I do get discounts on hotel rooms because of my membership, but that's about it.
     
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  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    That is us with the AEA... legal support (more than the AFT supplies. Lord knows I sure don't ever want to be in the position to need legal help!) and those discounts. AEA also fights for us at the state capitol with the governor and state leaders want to pull the wool over our eyes... like they always try to do. Some people can't stand that AEA gets into politics. WELL when the government is trying to screw over teachers, SOMEONE in politics needs to help us when the governor, the state reps and senators don't.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Connoisseur

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    Mine is a right to work state and we have a union and a few alternative associations.

    Which places don't have unions?
     
  6. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Comrade

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    A job such as teaching needs unions. I blame low test scores on the bias in standardize testing. Teacher Unions has anything to do with those. Under the new administration, unions might be at stake.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I've never taught in a school with a union (just charters). My position has always been an at-will one, meaning it can be severed on either end at any time. While this came in handy when my current school offered me a job without enough time for a two-week notice, it might be a problem if the tables were turned and I was let go. Raises are completely at the discretion of The Powers That Be and are non-negotiable.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Do they negotiate for your contract? That's the major thing that I would say our union ("association") does. It bothers me that people who don't join/pay the dues still get the same benefits the rest of us do. Besides the major things like salary/benefit, ours works really hard to get us things like uninterrupted planning time, limits on the number of staff meetings per month, limits on after school requirements, etc. Our district leadership didn't want the teachers to have any plan time at all when they were negotiating our contract last year (they wanted everything to be used for "collaborative meetings" instead because they feel they shouldn't have to provide "extra time" for salaried staff to get work done). I know having to eat lunch with the kids in classrooms is also a big thing in charter schools around here (no unions there, obviously), and of course ours makes sure we have duty-free lunch time. Mandatory free tutoring after school is also required in many charters around here.

    I know the pay is a LOT higher in my home state (union state) but I'm not sure how much of that is really under the control of the unions. The per pupil funding in my home state is also way more than what we get here, which isn't really anyone's fault at the school/district level. They can only do so much with the money they get.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  9. agdamity

    agdamity Enthusiast

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    We have nothing in my district. No union or association. We do not have a contract that is over a hundred pages long with negotiatied planning time, lunch duty, etc.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    What state is this? Is there no association in just your district, or is that throughout the entire state? Who negotiated the terms of your contract? Sorry for all of the questions, I'm just really curious!
     
  11. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I've only worked in an incredibly strong union, arguably the strongest in the country. I can't imagine any different, though I will say we are still constantly under attack. At some point, union or not, no state is going to have people who want to be teachers anymore. What will we do then?
     
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  12. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Companion

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    No, they have nothing to do with our contracts. The only reason I am aware that most teachers have a contract that is way, WAY more detailed than mine is because of this site. The contract I sign just states that I am employed in X position for the Y school year. I thought that was normal!

    Our contracts don't guarantee any sort of planning or lunch period, have restrictions on meetings, or anything like that. I am extremely lucky to work in a great district (and at a school with a great administration) that does work to make sure we have planning time, but our gen ed teachers have to have lunch with their students. While we only have one mandatory meeting a week, there is technically no limit on the number of meetings we could have. I've really been considering dropping my association membership. It's $450 a year that really doesn't seem to be doing much for me.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I've only worked with unions, and some unions are more effective than others. My previous union successfully negotiated pay increases and better health benefits for us. I'm not really sure what my current union is doing.

    I hear rumors of a federal bill coming from our US administration that will make every state "right-to-work" which I believe will gut unions. In the places I worked, everyone had to be part of the union because everyone benefited from the work that the union does. (it isn't fair for the non-union members to get the pay increases if union members paid all their dues to make that happen)

    You can choose to not be a part of the union, but the same amount that would have gone to dues you would have to donate to a charity of your choice.

    If every state was right to work, a bunch of people might decide not to join the union, but get the same benefits as those who did join the union, which will demoralize those who did decide to pay union dues and cause more of them to drop out believing that they will get the same benefits, all the while the union becomes weaker and weaker.

    I've never worked in a non-union state, but my friends working in charters say that their pay is very low, often frozen in the face of inflation, and the principals are more like CEOs with full power to drop staff whenever they feel like it if its more cost effective or they just don't like them for some reason. You enjoy more protections in a full-union state.

    That's not to say that bad teachers can't be fired. Evidence just has to be collected and due process followed first. I believe many people are against this, because they don't experience similar protections at their jobs where they can often be let go at any time, and don't like the idea that poor teachers enjoy more protection than themselves in their jobs.
     
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  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    So, the non-union teachers do more.

    I think you answered you own question as to why people blame the union when schools come up short.
     
  15. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    So giving teachers time to pee and eat lunch without children is why schools "come up short?" :rolleyes:
     
  16. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Comrade

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    And apparently time to lesson plan and grade too...
     
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  17. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Habitué

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    What's really interesting is the states with the strongest unions have the highest performing students. States where teacher unions are outlawed or repressed have the lowest performing students. One might argue that having a vigorous teachers union makes for great public schools.
     
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  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think that's an interesting point. It really depends on the charter though. Not all charters do extra things that benefit students. And when it comes down to it, if teachers don't feel valued they will leave for greener grass. Teachers in unionized schools already work themselves to the bone. It is often more extreme in charters and that often leads to high turn-over at charters. One thing I learned in the education business is that turnover is something that really negatively impacts students for the following reasons:

    1. It reduces the number of experienced and effective teachers and they are replaced by less experienced, less effective teachers who take a few years to get up to the point that they are effective. That's 1-2 years where students don't have an effective teacher.
    2. It reduces the amount of strong teacher-student relationships. Especially if the change-up of teachers happens mid-year. Students feel like none of the teachers like them or that they are a particularly disliked class if teachers are constantly coming and going in a classroom within a year. Even between years, the turnover is noticed, and students begin to feel like their school is more difficult than others because they can't keep teachers, when it really might have nothing to do with them.
    3. It sours the working relationships between admin and teachers. Admin treat the staff like low-wage workers who just show up for the pay-check because they don't have time to build any relationships with them before they're out the door, and as the quality of teachers is reduced in a hurry to replace the teachers who leave with any warm body, it begins to feel like all of the teachers they work with have to be as carefully monitored and managed like a retail manager would manage lazy and unskilled workers, not trusting them to make any decisions on their own.

    Forcing teachers to stay longer hours and do extra things for the same or less doesn't make the learning experience better for students. Especially if they don't want to be there, it will be very obvious to students.

    The best schools I worked in for both teachers and students have been ones where the district or schools have determined to treat teachers with respect and as professionals, attracting a wide number of teachers to it, so that they can pick only the very best and experienced teachers to fill their schools. For the extras like tutoring, teachers are offered extra pay and only the ones that really want to do it will, and it makes it so much better for the students because they have a caring adult who actually wants to be there for them. Not someone forced to be in a room with them.

    I guess if we took away all unions, career teachers wouldn't have a choice, and would have to deal with being forced to do extras and being treated less professionally, but I believe that would degrade the profession a great deal, and less teachers would become career teachers.
     
  19. agdamity

    agdamity Enthusiast

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    I teach in Arkansas. I know of very few districts who still have a union, and in at least one of them, the school board is not required to recognize them. Our "contract" is literally one page. We do have some state laws that districts must follow regarding planning time (200 minutes a week that is supposed to be teacher driven, but isn't always), duty free lunch (30 minutes 80% of the time), class sizes, etc. We have Personnel Policy Committees (PPC) that is supposed to be consulted if the board is making a large change in policy, and they are supposed to have the teachers vote on major changes. However, if those changes occur over the summer, they do not have to do that and simply mail the teachers a letter stating the change. You have 30 days to opt out of the said change in policy, but opting out means resigning your position.

    Since the legislature sets the laws regarding most "big ticket" items, most districts have extremely similar policies. I've worked in two different districts, the first was one of the few that had a union, my current one does not. Policy wise, the two districts are the same. The only reason the union was used in my first district was to help people file grievances with their administrators. There aren't nearly as many grievances filed in in current district as there is much less drama.
     
  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Groupie

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    In AZ our contract was a bare bones joke and basically said "we can fire you -or reduce your pay -- at any time! " They could also re-assign us to different subjects or buildings if they needed to.

    And they wonder WHY they can't get teachers!
     
  21. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I see your baseless claim and raise you California.
     

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