Join the Union?

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

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  1. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Jun 22, 2010

    The teacher I took over for told me to join, and I did without questioning it. She later told me about this time she was accused of child abuse (though she never laid a hand on the student). This was a parent that wanted to work the system. She said that the union was so supportive, she recommends it to everyone.
     
  2. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jun 23, 2010

    I would absolutely advise you to join. I may be a bit biased, however, as I am beginning the second year of my 2 year term as president of our local association.

    Our association helps members with a wide variety of issues, even if they are not directly related to the contract. I view the association as protecting our right to due process, but not to protect bad or incompetent teachers.

    If you are reaping the benefits of the association work (contract, etc.) you have an obligation to support them, or one day it will be gone.

    If your association is not working as you would like, get involved. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.
     
  3. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jun 23, 2010

    I'll admit I've had little contact with unions, having grown up in a right-to-work state, but I just don't understand this. It seems you are saying that the union, or members of the union, decided to negotiate these contracts (for everyone) and now feel as if they are owed.

    How are people "obligated" to pay for something they didn't ask for in the first place? What is special about unions? I really don't understand.
     
  4. gizmo2010

    gizmo2010 Rookie

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    Jun 23, 2010

    Imateacher- I have belonged to KEA a few years now and did not realize there was an alternative, less expensive group I could join! I checked out your link and I am impressed. Thank you for the information.
     
  5. mrsc_teaches

    mrsc_teaches Companion

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    Jun 23, 2010

    My famiy was not a union family or anything, but I joined because my options were pay a fee to join or pay a fee to not join.
    Here is the reason why I am happy with my choice.

    I live in one county where my children would attend school (we chose to send them to private) about 6 years ago the teachers association (this county does not have a union) negotiated a new contract which stated over the next 3 years increases would occur at percentage intervals. It was signed by the school board and agreed on by the teachers, SO it should have happened right??? NOPE!!! They had one increase, I believe 3.5% (it was supposed to be 7% over 3 years) and now for the second year they will NOT get a step increase. The local county council decided to drop the funding from the budget.
    NOW where I work currently: (entering my 5th year)
    We have had our contract renegotiated 2 times (this will be the 3rd this fall) and we have received all of our promised increases as well as step increases. Our Union is strong enough that the above would NEVER happen, if we are promised something it will occur.
    I guess for my purposes yeah we need to support the Union with monetary funds because there are people who do nothing but work negotiations for a living or being a rep. or whatever.
     
  6. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Jun 23, 2010

    And, in a right to work state, they don't even touch your contracts. Everyone gets the same contract (minus the salary depending on how many credits you have)
     
  7. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 23, 2010

    I was with the NEA (Virginia) for the legal coverage mainly. However, over time I found that I absolutely disagreed with most of what they do and support. VA is a non-union state too so the very high dues to NEA wasn't worth it to me. Check into your homeowner coverage. Some teachers have told me that you are (may be?) covered for legal under that. I joined the equivalent of KAPE mentioned earlier. I don't get the fancy NEA publications (can always read someone else's) but I can deal with that. $14 per month vs. $40 is a big difference with a teacher salary plus no raises last year and this coming year due to the economy.

    In support of our district, while I'd love to have the step raise, I'm still employed - no layoffs - and they've worked with the retirement system so that our lack of raises is not affecting our retirement accounts.

    Personally, I'd advise you to join a professional organization and steer clear of the NEA.
     
  8. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    Jun 24, 2010

    As a special ed teacher, the legal protection alone is worth it. There are sorry to say this many vindictive parents who if they don't get their way threaten to sue and will come after you. (I think of them as adult temper tantrums) but the rep will have your back.
     
  9. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Jun 24, 2010


    While I understand your point, it is very short sighted.



    May I ask how often you attend your school board meetings and how often you speak up for yourself as a teacher at them?


    If you've never been to one (like most teachers), I strongly suggest attending a few. It is an eye opening experience and one that will quickly show you why teachers need a voice.


    Our profession is dictated to by those who have never spent a day as a teacher. Yet they are incredibly arrogant about how much they KNOW of what it takes to be a teacher and never seek out input from teachers when they're making decisions. (In many cases, they loath the input they get from teachers.) If you don't show up to speak out and you don't have a representative showing up to speak out, decisions about you and your job WILL be made by people who have never taught a class.
     
  10. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jun 24, 2010

    Honest, I'm not trying to make a point--I don't understand. I don't understand how I may have somehow incurred some obligation to financially support an organization, because of their past actions which I may or may not support. I"m not being short-sighted, I'm seeking information.

    I'm currently still working toward a degree in special ed, so I've never spoken up "as a teacher." When time allows--when classes and work don't get in the way--I attend school board meetings every few months. I've been doing so since high school, and over the past years have probably attended over 100 such meetings. I've spoken up for myself as a student, as someone concerned about quality education, and as an informed citizen.

    I also attend legislative hearings that are open to the public when I have time (or can make time in some cases). I also make it a point to follow the votes of my representatives in congress, and provide input on their actions. Part of that whole "concerned citizen" thing we learned in school . . .

    I have to point out that on a number of occasions I've seen union reps at such meetings who were not classroom teachers (usually librarians, if I remember right--it has been some time back). I've also seen and heard union reps make statements of the union teachers' position on various issues, then seen some of those members stand up and state that what was said had never been agreed on, or sometimes even discussed in meetings etc.

    Which brings me back to my original question: how am I "obligated" to support a union for past work to obtain a contract they wanted and I am forced to take without regard to what I might want?
     
  11. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jun 24, 2010

    Hi JustJim,

    I've been at a state meeting all day and just saw this.

    Let me clarify - I believe you have a moral obligation to support the association that advocates on your behalf. The association does not just work on behalf of the members; all benefit and should share the financial burden.
     
  12. SciTeacherNY

    SciTeacherNY Companion

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    Jun 24, 2010

    Same here. You pay the fee since even if you are a member, the union is technically working/bargaining for you.
     
  13. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jun 24, 2010

    How is this "moral obligation" created? I've never asked a union to advocate on my behalf. The argument could even be made that they have "advocated" to my detriment by making it almost impossible for me to negotiate a contract on my own. They've created a system where the only way I can have even the tiniest bit of say in what is done to me is by paying them for the privilege--and they don't have to listen.

    It looks like unions are purporting to advocate on my behalf and expecting to be paid for it, regardless of my wishes. It would be different if a union rep approached me and said the union would work to get me a contract that is close to what I actually want, and provide reasonable protections for good teachers but not support the bad teachers beyond a certain point. At that point I'd become a strong supporter of unions.
     
  14. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jun 24, 2010

    I don't agree at all that I have a moral obligation to join.
     
  15. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jun 24, 2010

    You said you plan on being a special education teacher. It is to your benefit to join your union because of the legal protection they will give you. In the SPED world, you have more of a risk of someone coming after you because of the legal issues that can prop up, even if you would feel that you have done nothing wrong and you have met your obligations as stated in the IEP. You certainly do not want to pay an attorney out of pocket for a costly due process hearing.
     
  16. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jun 24, 2010

    I also strongly disagree with the premise that we have a moral obligation to financially support them.

    Were I living in a right to work state, I would withdraw my support completely. My union has "shafted" new teachers repeatedly, let alone my concerns about how they react to student issues (posted earlier), and I absolutely hate the fact that I am forced to pay to support them.

    The fact of the matter is, they only claim to be negotiating for me, while their actual actions have done quite the opposite. I'm afraid to go into details for fear of revealing my location, but my union is only a positive force for about half my building. And efforts to change that by attempts at incorporating newer staff into union positions have been rejected outright by the current leadership. Bleh.
     
  17. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jun 25, 2010

    Good luck negotiating the contract that you want individually.

    As I said, I don't believe the purpose of the associations is to protect bad teachers so they can keep their jobs, but to make sure that they receive the right to due process before they are terminated. I had several teachers in my district lose their job this year, and I am fine with that; but they received evaluations and hearings and were not just tossed because a principal or superintendent did not like them.

    In Ohio there are strict laws on association elections; I would check in your state. The "leadership" cannot just decide who is involved. If you cannot talk to your association about this, contact your state organization or the labor relations consultant for your area.
     
  18. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jun 28, 2010

    Actually, I wrote that I'm working towards a degree in special ed. In large part due to the various discrimination and frequently-near-constant male bashing and gender-based personal attacks I've had to put up with, I no longer intend to be a teacher. The near-certainty of that continuing at some level is a greater concern to me than the possibility of the parents of a student making accusations or filing a lawsuit.

    From what I've seen/heard/read, the unions are very hesitant or even unwilling to address these problems. Requiring me to pay to support a union that won't even acknowledge there is a problem adds insult to injury.

    I'm more than willing to be shown that I am incorrect on this--I would really like to be a teacher--but please cite your sources.
     
  19. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jun 29, 2010

    The only gender-based issue I've seen in my area is the ability of men to get hired more easily than women because there are fewer of them available.

    I would like to know what type of attacks you are referring to.
     
  20. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 29, 2010

    As a male elementary teacher, I have NEVER experienced that. Apprehension of a male elementary teacher? Definitely, and while I have never needed my union to back me up in such an instance, I have complete faith that they would.
     
  21. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Jun 29, 2010

    I've never seen any male bashing. The only gender issues that I have seen have been student related issues.

    Mostly male students being disrespectful and more difficult with female teachers (especially younger female teachers but also older ones.)

    We've also had two occassions were a few girls were planning to falsely accuse a male teacher of touching them inappropriately. In both cases, one person came clean before the accusations began.
     
  22. Dynamite Boys

    Dynamite Boys Companion

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    Jun 29, 2010

    In our district, even if we don't join, we have to pay a rate because they negotiate and support teachers anyway. The rate you pay is 95% of the rate for joining. In our district, I literally believe there is only 2 teachers (out of over 500) who are not members. I love knowing the union has my back . . .
     
  23. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jun 29, 2010

    I am the union rep for my union in my school (we have 4 different teaching unions in the UK). To be honest most of us don't want to be involved in the politics and don't pay the additional voluntary levy on our fees that goes to the Labour party. However if a kid or their parent decides to make a complaint against you or your headteacher (Principle) decides to bully you then the money you pay in fees is well worth it.
     
  24. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jun 29, 2010

    Halfateacher, I envy your experiences so far--I suspect the problem may not be as prevalent in Canada.

    I don't think men in el-ed getting hired more easily is really a factor here; I've been told to expect delays in learning the details of my student-teaching placement because some schools/principals don't want males in K-3, and because some elementary teachers are unwilling to supervise male student teachers.

    As far as the gender-based nonsense, I'd like to make it clear that I've not experienced any of it from teachers in the classrooms in which they taught, while class was in session. I have had teachers make comments in front of students I was tutoring to the effect that it wasn't "safe" for children to have male tutors or teachers; one directly told a student to tell her mommy to get me fired because it wasn't safe for the student to be working with a male. (The mother told the teacher to go climb a rope; no one else was willing to work with this student.)

    I've had teachers forward emails with subject lines like "Male Bashing (Women Love To Do)," "A Woman’s Guide to Male Bashing," and "Things Guys Should Know About Girls." If I accidentally delete them, no worries--I've seen all of those and more being passed around or posted in the teachers' lounge. Speaking of the teachers' lounge, I've heard a lot of male bashing "jokes" there but they range from risque to obscene, and really don't belong in this forum.

    I was once handed some memos with a note that I needed to sign them, written on a Post-It Note with the pre-printed motto: "Men have only two faults: everything they say and everything they do."

    That's the past 12-15 months; I've had similar experiences before.

    Yes, I freely admit it may be a regional thing. Given that I sometimes hear similar stories from other parts of the country, and that I've had similar experiences and heard similar comments while attending university classes, I suspect it is more representative of the attitudes of some teachers toward male colleagues.

    Those are some of my concerns, Missy, and I haven't been able to find a single instance where a union supported a male teacher in getting similar concerns addressed. As I wrote before, I'm willing to be shown I'm wrong. For now though, I'm left with the thought that I cannot rely on unions to advocate on my behalf--so why would I join one?
     
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