Do teachers' unions even care about us? Who will fight for us?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by oldstudent, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Mar 30, 2009

    We are the most disrespected employees in America, and I am fed up with this fact.
    Does the teachers' union even know we exist? Do they care?

    The frustration is magnified for me because I am constantly reminded of the grossly unfair contrast between my friend's situation and my own.

    My friend works for the motion picture labor union. Not even a high school diploma is necessary to do the light and stress free unskilled labor these union members do for $27/ hr and full medical benefits.

    He has been unemployed for the last eight months since the industry has been slow. While unemployed, he is allowed to sit on his buttocks and do absolutely nothing. He merely collects his $475 per week, while keeping all his unioin health benefits. He is not required to look for work. He just waits for his turn to go back to work. He has no education.

    Compare his situation with ours. Most of us are required to have a four year degree plus certification, yet our situation is the exact opposite of my friend's situation. We get nothing; no health benefits, no vacation pay, no sick pay, and no holiday pay. If we can't make it to work one day, tough luck. We just lose a day's pay.
    And, because we are school employees, we are not even allowed to collect unemployment because we are "reasurred" of returning to work after each recess. Of course, we are really not reasurred of working, only of being on the district's call lists.

    Does anyone know of an e-mail address I can write to in order to bring our situation to light? Who will listen? I have already complained to the EDD office that is responsible for the uneployment benefits.
    Is there someone at the California Teachers Association who I can write to?

    I realize it will likely not do any good since I do not think anyone cares about us, but I still want to get my two cents in to anyone who might listen.
     
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  3. SoCal_Sub

    SoCal_Sub Rookie

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    Mar 31, 2009

    No they do not care about you or your job. All they care about is the union dues they recieve which helps pay for their salaries. They don't fight to keep your job, they fight to keep the union dues coming in. No teachers, no union dues. It's that simple. They are the biggest bullies in our schools.

    http://teachersunionexposed.com/
     
  4. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Mar 31, 2009

    Try the National substititute Teachers alliance Website. Just Google the name.
     
  5. SSA

    SSA Companion

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    Mar 31, 2009

    I don't know whether I would say that subs are the most disrespected employees, but I would agree with you that substitute teachers don't get a lot of respect.

    As for why substitute teacher's as an issue on most teacher union's agenda is simple: in many cases substitute teachers aren't represented by the union contract. Many teacher union contracts explicitly exempt substitute teachers as being covered by their contracts. Since rationally nobody would join an organization that doesn't care about their interests you don't see many unionized substitute teachers. Furthermore, I don't think that classroom teachers would even want substitute teachers represented by any union insofar as contract negotiations with a school district are nearly a zero sum game in CA. While the school could cut spending on materials there is a practical point of how far one can cut without either cutting compensation or simply firing people. A lot of schools are already on long replacement cycles for textbooks and other materials. There is only so many years you can skip replacing something.

    Technically speaking your unemployed friend in the film industry technically has to look for work. I am not aware of any special exemptions for the out of work people from the film industry, but considered you claim that this person has a limited skill set that isn't much in demand right now I think that their employer would have a hard time claiming that they are turning down offers for work. If you lack any marketable skills or at the very least your marketable skills are in serious decline you can easily and legally collect unemployment for months on end.

    It feels good to let out your frustrations, but I am cynical that you will have much luck changing the status quo.
     
  6. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Apr 1, 2009

    I do not know whether my friend technically has to look for employment or not, but if he does, the EDD office merely looks the other way.
    Like most members of his union, he has probably been "unemployed" for about 40% of time he has been in this union. He has never been required to look for work.
    There are hundreds, if not thousands of union employees like him who just sit around and collect unemployment checks for much of their working lives because the unions overstaff at the state's expense.
    I told the EDD office they they are being ripped off because these unions overstaff, and then lay off hundreds who collect unemployment while doing nothing.
    EDD said they will look into it, but we know they won't.

    Your comments about subs not unionizing are correct. Most subs accept the status quo and are not bothered by these inequities. Subs have no passion for making things fair. I am a freak in this regard

    Nothing but a nationwide sub boycott would change anything, but that will never happen.
     
  7. SSA

    SSA Companion

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    Apr 2, 2009

    I double checked with the CA EDD's website and sure enough as I remembered you DO have to look for work and you can't turn down an offer of work. Provided this person is making an attempt to find work every week and they don't turn down any offers of work they should remain eligible to keep collecting their unemployment check.

    That being said I don't think that the fraud division does a great job ensuring that people are actually searching for work. I had a stint on unemployment in the past and they never requested any documentation of who I contacted in searching for work. In the current economy though I don't think that they are going to be too surprised if somebody can't find a job for 2-3 months. Typically speaking most of the people defrauding the system are attempting to work under the table. If you don't even try to find work at some point you will run out of unemployment benefits and then you will be a in a work of hurt.

    There is one thing that I don't think you realize: the unemployment fund is funded by taxes paid by employers. Sure I understand that the federal government is bailing out CA and many other state's unemployment funds because the claims have exceeded how much money was left in the fund, but in a normal economy the taxes collected from business owners would cover all the unemployment claims.

    As for your friend he must not be doing too badly when does find work since $475 is as much as CA will provide per week in unemployment. In order to get unemployment one needs to have made enough money in the first place to even be eligible. It recently went up $25 thanks to stimulus funds from the federal government. Furthermore, until the recent crisis extended unemployment benefits you really couldn't stay on unemployment forever. It used to be capped at 26 weeks (6 months).


    Unless you are accusing somebody of committing unemployment fraud I don't think that they care. The people who get ripped off by unemployment fraud are largely the employers that end up paying more than they should. A lot of employers whose unemployment account is getting dinged too much will hire lawyers to try to disqualify more unemployment filings. From my understanding school employees generally don't qualify for unemployment during school breaks due to a change in federal law in the 1970s. AFAIK every state updated their labor code to meet federal law. The people at the EDD can't change the law. Whining to EDD is a waste of your time and more importantly theirs. The EDD is so understaffed that people wait hours to talk to someone and I would wager they simply wanted you to stop wasting their time so that they can help people who aren't ranting about things the EDD have no control over.

    Most subs accept the status quo not because they enjoy the status quo, but because there is no organization in place to change it. Teacher unions as I said generally only represent regular classroom instructors. Anyone else including other unionized employees are rivals for the limited size of the educational funding pie. While I won't stereotype substitute teachers I've met a number of subs who are rather socialistic. If there was a substitute teacher's union I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people would join it. If you think that you are somehow unique in that you are a sub that thinks that they are underpaid for their labor then you really are rather ignorant.

    The bigger problem is that substitute teachers are a relatively transient group of workers. Many subs either are retired teachers who are simply looking to supplement their retirement, people testing out teaching before getting a credential, or people simply looking for a part time gig to supplement another income source. The last sub orientation I went to for a district I met a lot of people who were college educated people in other careers(engineering, IT workers, actors, etc.) who literally just need the ~$100/day to help pay the bills. Once the economy turns around I imagine many will return to whatever their regular professions were. Very few people stick around subbing for more than a few years although I have been shocked to meet a few people who have done it for a while.

    Unions are rare in professions where there isn't a lot of stability in the workforce because the workers are difficult to unionize and workers aren't likely to be interested in a work stoppage for a job that they won't stick with for more than a year.
     
  8. fratermus

    fratermus Companion

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    Apr 2, 2009

    Not trying to invoke Foucault or anything like that, but subs exist on the margins of the education world and so are not predisposed to collective actions or even a great deal of instrospection.

    In addition, many of us are from places without a common history of unions or collective actions. The view from Texas is different from that from, say, Detroit or Chicago.

    Final thought, perhaps incendiary: One can think of subs as temps of the education world; it helps shed light on our motivations, concerns, etc.
     
  9. SoCal_Sub

    SoCal_Sub Rookie

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    Apr 2, 2009

    I would never join a Substitute Teacher's Union, because it would turn into nothing more than a power grab and greed for money (teachers union).
     
  10. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Apr 2, 2009

     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 3, 2009

    Teachers do care about the quality of subs who are 'replacing' us...we definitely want more than 'warm bodies'..We have asked in my district how our sub rate compares against neighboring districts as we don't want to lose the 'good' subs to higher paying districts...it's pretty comparable district to district in my area...As far as whether teachers' unions care about subs? Hate to tell you, you're pretty much NOT on the radar screen. We have dues-paying custodians, paras, secretaries and other support personnel as well as professional educators to worry about as our priorities...Negotiations are tough- especially in this economy. Districts want to freeze our pay, cut staff, cut benefits for contracted employees...Sub work conditions and their pay are not even going to get on the table for contract negotiations...Sorry. :(
     
  12. SSA

    SSA Companion

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    Apr 4, 2009

    That pretty much represents what I think virtually every teacher union's opinion of the situation would be. Teacher's obviously want something better than warm bodies for subs, but the realities of the current situation are that such concerns have to take a back seat to simple self interest.
     
  13. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Apr 5, 2009

    I have always been aware of the reasons why subs just sit back and accept their disrespected status without a fight. These reasons have been confirmed based on the comments I have read. I chose not to state them to see if my thoughts would be confirmed, and unfortunately they have been.
    Simply put, most subs think of this job as a mere side bar or small stepping stone towards their larger careers goals, and hence have minimal or no concern for the fact that perks are completely non-existent.
    I was hoping maybe at least one other sub would identify with my rant and share my anger, but the fact that no one has, has simply validated my belief that we will be unfairly disadvantaged as long as our job exists.
    We don't care about the status of our jobs, so it is obvious no one else will care about it either.

    Neverthless, it is still unfair that the EDD laws lump all school employees together when disallowing unemployment benefits.

    It is obvious why most school employees are exempted. They receive a full year's salary that is paid out over 9-10 months, while maintaining benefits during a recess periods. Unemployment compensation for them would be a ridiculous and unecessary waste.

    However, when one type of school employee gets low daily wages, no compensation for missed days, no sick pay, no vacation pay, no holiday pay, and no health benefits, this type of employee should be considered seperately instead of being lumped with the majority.
    We are an exception to the reasons why school employees get no compensation, and I feel this exception is unfairly ignored. Apparently, however, I am the only one who feels this way or cares.

    My uneducated friend is a good fellow, but he should not be allowed to spend 40% of his working years collecting $475 a week with full benefits for doing nothing(and hundreds like him), while conversely, we are entiltled to absolutely nothing.

    I am the only one who is troubled by this inequity? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes.
     
  14. fratermus

    fratermus Companion

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    Apr 5, 2009

    > I was hoping maybe at least one other sub would identify with my rant
    > and share my anger

    Rants and anger are not necessarily constructive or attractive. I am willing to be a participant in a conversation. I am unwilling to be a participant in a "two-minute hate" (to borrow Orwell's phrase). Unsubbing from the thread.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 5, 2009

    Subs in my district are not on contract like regular teachers are. I'm not sure why or how the union would represent people who aren't on contract with the district.

    Perhaps subs need to organize their own union.
     
  16. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Apr 5, 2009

    Since my words are neither constructive nor attractive,
    please offer a more constructive method of writing and a more relevant audience to whom I can express myself. I will
    welcome suggestions.
    I will also further investigate the suggestion from post #2.

    I am sorry if I have offended you, but if even one person has been the least bit influenced, it has been worth the effort.

    I disagree with the comments about rants not being constructive, as I surmise many wrongs that have been righted have included rants as part of the progression towards fairness.

    You are correct in your implications that this thread will likely accomplish nothing, but letting off some steam does no harm. There are far less constructive ways of dealing with issues.
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Apr 6, 2009

    One of the schools I subbed in had reps who were excellent at listening to the issues subs had and who regularly brought them to committee meetings. The trick may be that I knew who the reps were and talked with them on a regular basis, not just when I had a problem. They knew me as an individual and were willing to speak for me in order to keep me from leaving their district.

    I don't know if that helps.
     

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