Is joining a teaching union/professional organization worth it?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HorseLover, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Technically they are not unions in our state, but is joining a professional organization worth it? There were two advertising at my New Teacher Orientation today. One of the big things they seem to be advertising is tort insurance (in case I get sued by someone claiming I hit their child or something) but in the employee manual it says my school system provides that. The organization I was looking at would be about $66 per MONTH! They do offer some professional dev. and such, but not sure how much I would use that. I'm just thinking my money could be better spent elsewhere (paying off student loans, a "new to me" car, etc).

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I never joined North Carolina's teacher association. I'm just fine. Most people never use it, but a lot of people join for peace of mind.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I wouldnt join if all they're offering is tort insurance which you already have in your district.
    We have a district union which as a member also makes me a member of my state and the NEA...I find my district union to be totally worth my membership...as a matter of fact, since the union negotiates everyone's contract, we are considered a 'closed shop' ...anyone who one snt join still has a percentage of dues taken from pay because of the collaborative bargaining done on their behalf. My state union is very strong...I do believe the benefits for us are greater than mere tort insurance.
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Yes.
     
  6. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    YES!
     
  7. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    YES, YES, YES!!! Especially if you have a strong Union!

    I work in a pretty large district (over 80,000 kids) which means that people at the school level (Admin) can get away with A LOT of shady things without ever being checked by those at the Board of Ed. Filing a Union complaint really is the only course of action a "wronged" teacher can take.

    I have met people with horror stories and heard stories of situations where if there had been no Union to step in, the person would have been fired or their teaching license suspended. I know a tenured teacher that was fired (contract not renewed) by Admin - who pretty much do the hiring/firing in my district - over a bad evaluation. No scandal or anything, just a bad evaluation and lots of "documentation" to support it. Luckily, he was a Union member.

    The Union, to an extent, keeps the Board and school level Admin as "honest" as possible.
     
  8. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    My first teaching assignment was in a district with a weak union. The best teachers seemed to shun it.

    In my current district, it's the opposite. We have an outstanding union that really looks out for the interests of teachers in a professional way. It's loaded with strong, capable teachers who serve as union reps to their buildings.

    I think a great union needs to have great teachers in it. I view this as part of my duties to the profession.
     
  9. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    I agree with you 100 percent Tyler B. My state's union is considered one of the strongest, if not the strongest, in the country. Yes many would balk at the dues I pay but I have seen first hand what my local has done for teachers in the district. After seeing the salaries of North Carolina teachers I know my union dues are worth it.
     
  10. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    I'm in VA, too. I am not a member of the VEA or VPE. The VEA is more politically active, thus the higher dues. The VPE offers mainly just additional insurance only to members for a lower rate. In my opinion, it's not beneficial to be a member of either one since my school district provides tort insurance up to 1mil.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that it is money well spent.
     
  12. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I've taught in Maryland and VA, and the unions in Maryland are much stronger. When I was a first year teacher, the union stopped a lot of first year teachers from being laid off mid-year due to financial mismanagement at district level.

    Still, I am a member of the VEA for a couple of reasons. They are our voice in Richmond, and with who is in charge and who is running to be in charge this year, we desperately need that voice. I don't know if you saw what Ken Cuccinelli said today or not, but he is nuts. Also, the union is there to give you legal protection/advice in cases where the school district is not on your side. I think the district tort insurance just covers if a parent goes after you, not the school district.
     
  13. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    The difficulty I see from the district being the one to cover you with the tort insurance is what if the district sees a cost benefit for them if you are the one found to be at fault? You may not have to pay the financial cost for the situation being dealt with; however you still lose your job and your license. The district will always cover its own ass before yours. The union will cover you.

    Also the tort insurance may only cover the end cost and not the lawyers needed to get there.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Joining a professional organization...maybe. Look into the costs vs. benefits. The one that you shared, I would say "NO" to it. $66/month is outrageous.
     
  15. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    I join for the insurance. It is about $100. Last year I belonged to an expensive one, by accident (I thought it was cheaper and was so busy I didn't notice the monthly charges for half the year). The expensive one was $40 a month. I was pretty ticked because I signed up at an event and didn't ask the price and they didn't tell me. Anyways, next year I am going back to the cheaper one.

    Our district and state does not provide the insurance, but I would imagine that insurance only covers you against parent/student accusations. Would it protect you if the district wrongly accused you of something (i.e. stealing money from a fundraiser-which happened to a friend of mine)?
     
  16. bison

    bison Habitué

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    You're going to find radically different opinions on unions. I would join.
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    If it were an actual union, yes I would say you should join, but it sounds like from your post it's not a union and that the only benefit would be the extra insurance? To me, that is not worth it. If they're not a union, I don't see how they would have the power to deal with school issues or "keep admin honest."

    ETA: I paid exactly $66 a month last year for my union which was worth every penny. We had several extremely dedicated union reps in my building who worked their butts off to try and make our working conditions better. They made sure that we weren't being held for meetings after contract time and that the school could not take away our planning or lunch time for ANY reason (and believe me, my admins tried). My admin was pretty awful so they were constantly helping people out with grievances, and most of opted to take a union rep to any meeting with the principal so we weren't alone with her and we had a witness to everything. There are several discrimination lawsuits coming down the pike and the teachers would not have been able to speak up or do anything about it without the help of the union. At the district level, they fight hard to make sure we get a fair contract. To me, having people on your side that will really fight for you is completely worth joining. However, it doesn't seem like you would get any of these benefits from a teacher organization.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure about the OP's exact situation, but here's mine. We don't have an official union, but we do have an "association". It wields a fair amount of power, although not as much as a traditional union. We are not allowed to strike, for example, so that's obviously a weakness. On the other hand, the association does provide us with legal support if we need it, as well as a host of other things.

    These days, with lawsuit happy parents and seriously entitled students, I would never want to work as a teacher without insurance and legal protection. I wouldn't trust the school/district to support me.
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Ours was called an "association" also but they had all of the power of a union. From the description in the OP it didn't sound like she would have reps in her building dealing with the day to day stuff.
     
  20. MissJill

    MissJill Cohort

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    After my year of hell, 100% yes!
     
  21. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    After being union president for two years and seeing some of the things administrators thought they could do, I can't say "YES" loudly enough.
     
  22. Sm2teach

    Sm2teach Companion

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    I did not for many years. I was always told my district would cover me if anything came up as long as I didn't do something completely stupid. However, the last couple years I have had some behavior unit kids in my class that had to be restrained occasionally. I went through the training and we always followed our guidelines, but I decided to join an organization just to cover myself a little more from these kinds of situations. Sometimes the kids would end up with bruises from hitting things before we could get control, and heaven forbid they later turn around and say one of us did it. Another reason we always had more than one adult in the room during one of these episodes.
     
  23. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    I was on the fence about this for many years, but with the state of education right now, my answer has to be a resounding 'yes'. In fact, I just paid my union dues two days ago. The district/employee relationship has become much more adversarial in many parts of the country. I would like to think that the district always has the teacher's back, but I don't think that is reality any more.
     
  24. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I also don't trust my district/school to do anything that was not in their best interests first. Throwing teachers under the bus and hanging them out to dry to satisfy parent complaints is more common than some think.
     
  25. TeachTN

    TeachTN Comrade

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    I just got my job offer this week and I will join as soon as I have the money this month.
     
  26. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Also, in my district, Union dues are directly taken from your paycheck so it doesn't feel like you are giving away money - you never miss it.
     
  27. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    By the way, I pay $24 per pay period, or $48 per month for the VEA. Not sure why you would pay $66.
     
  28. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Yes, totally worth it. If someone is trying to intimidate you or pressure you into quitting your job, you just say the magic word "union" and they'll back off. Trust me. It worked for me against an unscrupulous principal.
     
  29. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    I'm just not sure how much power they have since it's not a "union" in Va
     
  30. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Virginia seems to have more labor laws that deal directly with teachers than union states do.

    While the VEA can't help with contract issues, they can help with labor law issues. I imagine they would also make sure you are aware of your rights in your employment, and there are situations in which they can represent you.

    I would join for that reason, but also, as others have said, because they advocate on your behalf to change or preserve laws to protect your interests as a teacher in Virginia
     
  31. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My union is also really an association. We have no power to strike. However, our district has a wonderful working relationship with the association. They work together with the best interests of teachers and students in mind.

    I didn't join for insurance specifically. Although it was a factor in my decision. I joined and pay my dues because I want that wonderful working relationship between the district and the association to continue. My working conditions are good overall, I attribute much of that to the hard work of the association. It's worth $26 two times per month in order to have an association that works to keep my working conditions as good as they are.
     
  32. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    After working at two private schools and being let go from both for no reasons given, I would say yes. Anyone that can help me through a fair evaluation program is worth a few dollars from my check.
     
  33. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I second this. Besides joining the union, I would pay attention to their publications and attend some meetings. Regular teachers airing their opinions at these meetings keep the union a strong, professional organization that keep weak, short-sighted administrators in line.
     

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