Join the Union?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by ACardAttack, Jun 17, 2010.

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  1. ACardAttack

    ACardAttack Companion

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    Jun 17, 2010

    I was just offered a position and have accepted it. I have yet to fill out any paper work, but I was wanting opinions on joining the union. The advice I have gotten through mentor teachers is if you dont do anything too stupid you'll be fine.

    Other opinions?
     
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  3. mrsc_teaches

    mrsc_teaches Companion

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    I joined and encourage others to do so as well.
    In my district you pay a fee even if you dont join so joining is a better deal.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I would. And congrats on the job!
     
  5. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    YOU may think something is not stupid but someone else may. I strongly suggest joining.
     
  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I was a member of KEA (NEA) for years, but I dropped it because it was so expensive. I found the meetings to be more political than anything, and I just wasn't on the same page as the local members.

    I've been a member of KAPE, and I like it so much better. They're less expensive, and they've been very quick to answer questions for me. Naturally they're political, too, but they stick with education issues.

    Our district now has enough members so that our dues can be taken from our checks every month. I think it's around $150 a year, and KEA is more than double that.

    Just something to consider.
     
  7. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    I thought you had to join. :unsure: Besides doing something stupid I think the union is supposed to help you if you have an issue. Let's say you're being required to work through your plan or attend extra function. I think your union can help with that. So it's a good idea to join so someone has your back. ;) I think it is all about who is your union rep too. I had 2 issues (one was with a student assault and another with me working outside of contract time). Neither was seriously dealt with or resolved. :( Also if you have to meet with your P about an issue or meet with an irate parent you can have your union rep there.
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'll have to check out KAPE...not familiar with that. I never joined KEA because of the high dues; I believe it was approximately $400 my first year and as a first year teacher who was already dropping so much money on her classroom and beginning grad school and building a home, I thought I'd roll the dice. They are awfully political...
     
  9. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Absolutely.


    Not for reasons of not doing something stupid and you'll be o'k, but for what school districts across the country are doing to teachers.


    There are tons of threads on this forum of school districts doing all sorts of unsavory things to save money at the cost of teachers. Everything from monster pay cuts to wiping out all benefits and more.


    The unions are the only voice that give the teachers a chance to be heard. I come from the environmental clean up industry where the unions are seldom helpful to anyone, but the union bosses. This, however, is a profession where they are definitely needed. Especially in a time when cutting cost to the bare bone is the status quo.
     
  10. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I haven't joined because I couldn't really afford it. I think it's definitely a good idea and I will join when I get my next job.
     
  11. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    If I had a choice (I don't) I would not have joined my own union. Not only is it too expensive on my salary, I strongly disagree with them on too many issues. Our union fights tooth and nail for the teachers (which while good) at the EXPENSE of the students.

    I won't get into the details here, and I realize that every union isn't like this.... but in my building, they fight to benefit the teachers, and to hell with how it impacts students. I can't support that, and I hate that I'm forced to do so.
     
  12. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Ron, you are forced to join the union?
     
  13. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I would advise it. I find when things do go wrong at least you have somewhere to go for assistance. Also if you are not participating you are still reaping the benefits through having a contract and various things such as tenure. The less people, who are reaping the benefits, who are part of the union the weaker the union is, thus undercutting the benefits. Those corporate and government powers who are fighting against labor strength do appreciate it! If you are not satisfied and do not participate you have no reason to complain.
     
  14. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jun 18, 2010

    Every benefit you enjoy in your contract was negotiated by the union for you so I am a member. You can't complain if you don't belong. I feel like my admin has my back but I like the added confidence of the organization. In my opinion, you can't afford NOT to join.
    As for politics, I disagree with pretty much every candidate the NEA and PSEA endorses. In PA, the contributions for politics is seperate from the dues.
     
  15. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    I would also recommend that you join. Rather than be repetitious, a lot of people posting prior to me posted a lot of good reasons.
     
  16. Simba

    Simba Comrade

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    I would join our union.
     
  17. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    EXACTLY!!! You never know what kind of crazy parent you may have to deal with. It's peace of mind. I say do it.
     
  18. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    What is the advice for someone whose school is unaffiliated? I'm at a non-union charter school. Should I join the state-wide union? Can I? I'd really prefer to have the legal representation that NEA offers, plus both of my parents and one of my in-laws were extremely active in NEA before their respective retirements. On the other hand, if the union would be hostile to me because I'm at a charter school, it might not be in my best interest.
     
  19. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Ever thought about become more active in your union in order to change that?
     
  20. Windy City

    Windy City Companion

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    Like several others have stated, my district takes money out of your checks whether you join or not. So it only makes sense to join.

    I am one of the lucky ones. Our union fights tooth and nail for teachers to help benefit our students rather than benefit the teachers at the expense of our students. The union board is extremely passionate about making sure that everything we do and fight for is to help our students.

    While my principal is amazing, others are not. Some admins are very sneaky and try to make teachers do all kinds of things that against our contract (to help benefit the admins, of course). The union sweeps in before we even know about anything, and they sort everything out so that teachers don't need to feel pressured to stand up to their admins.

    The union also negotiates our contracts. I feel that for me, it only makes sense to join to show my support of what they do. I realize that others may not be as lucky, and I would have to be in their shoes before making a decision about whether or not to join.
     
  21. MissSkippyjonJones

    MissSkippyjonJones Comrade

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    Like others have said, we have to pay the fee even if we don't join the union, so I joined. I never did anything bad, but I did have a few parent problems so it was nice to bring my rep into those meetings for support. Also, when my district did massive layoffs last year, we were given union support through meetings, informational emails, and a free lawyer.
     
  22. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Yes. I even spoke with my building rep about it, as we're actually very good friends. She regretted to inform me that I wouldn't likely win any position in the union if I ran for an office, and would likely not be terribly respected if I merely attempted to increase any participation.

    We have a sad situation in my building, where an "old guard" vs "the rookies" mentality has developed. teachers with 15-20 years + in the district essentially control the union and many committees, with virtually no input from anyone else. I am the newest teacher on our building leadership team (starting year 4 soon) and my comments are almost always brushed aside, or outright rejected. I was flat out told last month, after making a suggestion as to how to handle student hallway traffic (reverting to hall passes instead of their planners) ... "how long have you been teaching? 3 years? sure, what could you possibly know?.

    Etc. Etc. So this is where my extreme distaste for my union comes from...
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    In my district, the union negotiates everyone's salaries (teachers, secretaries, custodians, paras...)...So even if you don't join, you owe a certain percentage of the dues for the negotiations. You might as well join.
     
  24. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I would join the union.
     
  25. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I belonged to the union for over twenty years, but I wish now that I'd just flushed all that money down the toilet and had the fun of watching it swirl. The union did nothing for me. I'd advise you not to bother joining.
     
  26. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I would join the union.

    We don't have a union, but we do have a teacher's association that we automatically become members of when we sign contracts that acts as union for us. Substitute teachers have the option of joining or not.

    One year, a sub made a student angry. The student went to the prinicpal and accused (falsely) the sub of asking her VERY inappropriate questions of a sexual nature. The principal, who knew the sub well, informed the sub of the accusation and encouraged her to get in touch with the teachers' association's legal team. She said that as principal, she needed to follow up on all accusations, even if she believed them to be false.

    The sub did call the teachers' association who gave her feel legal counsel and advice. The student later told the truth and all was well. However, had the sub not been a member of the "union" she would have been up the creek.

    I say better safe than sorry.
     
  27. Blkjacq

    Blkjacq Companion

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    I would join. I live in AZ and since we're not a union state, it's more of a negotiating committee. The Association can voice opinions to the district board, but that's about it.

    That being said, I joined because you never know when a student will accuse you of something. The district will not pay for a lawyer, but the association will. If that ever happens, it's worth the money.
     
  28. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Definitely join.
     
  29. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    I'm in AZ, too. I felt like our union doesn't help with anything BECAUSE we are a right to work state (which means you can have a job without being forced to joint the union). If I join, they can't single me out to help with class size or my salary. So, all they do is "negotiate" well.....I am not part of the union and they are negotiating for me and others as it is so...why join? I don't see the benefit here.

    One of my district's benefits is to get a lawyer for us in case we are accused of anything so again, not a benefit to me for the union...
     
  30. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Yes for us you pay for union membership or an agency fee- both are the same price- over $900.00- don't get me started....
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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  32. Blkjacq

    Blkjacq Companion

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    You're very lucky that your district will get you a lawyer, but personally I wouldn't rely on it. I've seen/heard of too many teachers who have been accused of something and their district hung them out to dry.

    My reason to join even though it negotiates for everyone is that there is always more power with numbers. And someday when you need something like help with an eval, etc, you can't join after the fact, KWIM?
     
  33. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Not for me.

    1. I have a political voice on my own. I don't like being told that I am "for" or "against" something/somebody just because I am a member of NEA...errrr I mean a union.

    2. Our district will provide us with a lawyer if we need one.

    3. The dues are too much.

    4. In Georgia, there doesn't seem to be much of a point. The unions don't have any real power to do anything.
     
  34. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Joining a union is helpful. They can help if your administration disciplines you.
     
  35. timsterino

    timsterino Comrade

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    This is not about you doing anything stupid. This is about someone who could accuse you of doing something stupid when you do nothing wrong. That is where the protection is important. You can control your own actions, however you need safeguards against the actions of others.
     
  36. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Yes, it's great that unions are there to help you in a possible time of need such as needing a lawyer but, let's be realistic. To me, that's the only "good" reason to even join AZ's union. At the price you pay per paycheck, I could hire my own lawyer should I ever need one. I expect more from a union than that. I can find my own lawyer if I need one, God forbid.

    I do want to make ONE thing clear though :) I DO support unions IF they are strong. When I move to another state, they have mandatory unions which means class size, salaries, and contracts are gone through with a fine toothed comb making sure it is fair for teachers. I'm getting a little tired of having 30+ kids shoved into my 2nd grade classroom and being told to "deal with it". This next year I will START at 31 which means I will gradually have 35 by January! The union can't/won't do jack about that!:mad:
     
  37. ebrillblaiddes

    ebrillblaiddes Companion

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    The way I see it is, we live in a litigious society. The difference between just not even kind of clicking with a student on a personality level (which has happened to all of us, or will, it's a fact of life that no personality type meshes well with every type) and having a student falsely accuse you of something is the student's values, which you don't get to choose. (Yes, there are CYAs to make it harder for the student to do that...but if they're determined to get you, they'll find a way!) And the same applies to dealing with admins; if you're not their type, that only works out OK as long as they have good values that lead them to rise above that.

    Between those things, it's just nuts to fly without insurance (and other legal protection) unless you can afford to hire your own lawyer and write really big checks if it comes to that to make a problem go away. Unless you're rich you've got to be protected...get the coverage from the union, from a non-union professional association, or from eBay if you have to (only from a reliable seller), but get it from somewhere.

    I don't, however, agree with mandatory unionization--I think it often turns the unions into one more thing that the teachers are vulnerable to, rather than something that's supposed to work for them. I understand that strength in numbers is needed to make many of the benefits work, such as lower insurance costs and negotiating working conditions, so the unions need to do something to get people on the lists--I just don't agree with use of force as the best option. What about professional development, like being able to get speakers out to a campus if enough of the teachers are in the union, or being able to schedule a call with someone helpful during your prep (or even to put on speakerphone during a shared prep)? Why aren't those happening, or if they are happening, why doesn't anyone seem to know about it?
     
  38. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    At $200 an hour plus fees for paralegals (like me) and administrative assistants, you really think you can afford an attorney to defend you on a teacher's salary?


    Defending a simple case that never goes to trial will cost around $5,000. Get sued because you failed to comply with absolutely every single requirement of an IEP and watch that number go into the 10's of thousands, but still be cheaper than loosing the case.

    Many folks believe they can counter sue for legal costs and you can. You, of course, have to pay more legal fees to file such a case and your chances of winning are very slim. If you win, your chances of collecting the funds are even less than your chances of winning.
     
  39. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I would join. Even if you can afford the legal fees, you might not be able to afford a ridiculous judgment against you.

    As far as administration goes, I thought I had a supportive administration until this past spring. I got a jolt of a wake-up that they don't. Though things ended up okay, the union was there to support the teachers and help us stand up to the admin. I was really glad I'm a member.
     
  40. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    So then how do you negotiate with an organization, e.g. school districts, that has a lot of clout? Say "pretty please?" There's an old saying, you don't go to a gun fight with a knife.

    If you're talking about strikes, well, no one really wants to do that, only as a last resort, they're diamaging for all. A lot of hard feelings linger well after a strike has been settled, because the students get caught in the middle of it - unlike a manufacturing factory, where you're dealing with widgets, in a school, the "product" or service is serving people.
     
  41. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2010

    And what if the district's interests do not exactly align with yours? Then you could be really up the creek.

    Unfortunately, GA is a right to work [for less] state.
     
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