Joining the union?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mrsammieb, May 28, 2018.

  1. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    May 28, 2018

    When I taught in Connecticut, I had to join the union. They negotiated our contracts and really helped make the work place a better environment to be in. Since moving to Georgia, the union is not a priority here. They do not negotiate contracts and we have a lot of "but it is for the kids" mentality. Which is what it is. At my school this year a teacher was put on a TEKS plan for poor lesson planning and lack of growth. Eventually she was asked to either resign or not be renewed. She ended up resigning. I kept asking her, where is your union rep? Isn't there suppose to be a person helping her understand what is happening to her? So now, I feel like I should, just to be safe, join a union. But what do they do? If they weren't there for her why would I waste my money? What would you do?
     
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  3. MaleTeacher

    MaleTeacher Rookie

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    May 28, 2018

    I think you should definitely join the union. I plan to relocate and teach in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, or New York. They have better unions and I will join if I get a job teaching in a school district. A union is able to help you in cases involving false allegations, serious student problems, or unfair evaluations.
     
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    May 28, 2018

    Is Georgia truly a union state? In my state, teacher unions are prohibited outside of the major cities. Instead, we have associations that function in a manner similar to a union, but they are not truly unions. It works similarly to how you have described. Even within my state, the associations at each school district function slightly differently. At most schools, teachers are represented as a whole by their association reps. However, at some schools the reps don't typically accompany teachers into individual meetings to provide support unless specifically asked to do so, while they do that automatically at other schools.

    Regardless, I still join the association/union. I don't do it for the representation. I do it for the liability insurance and the sense of joining a community. Truthfully, I lean anti-union. Personally, if I were to be "in trouble" with an administrator, I would want to deal with it on my own. I would have no interest in bringing in a rep to meeting.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    May 28, 2018

    I'm really surprised your union doesn't negotiate contracts. We are a "right to work" state and have "associations" (people still informally call them unions), but they do negotiate contracts. They're voluntary to join here. What is frustrating is that those who don't join/pay are still getting the benefit of having their contract negotiated for them.

    IME, the "but it's for the kids" thing is totally dependent on how strong the local union is, which is dependent on how many people actually join. In my first district, almost no one joined and the union wasn't really able to do anything. We had constant required PD and meetings outside of contract hours, as well as constant after school and night time activities, including multi-day camping trips with children that we weren't compensated extra for. Many people would leave the school as soon as they started having children of their own because they just couldn't keep up with the requirements.

    My second district had 90 something percent in the union. They were very serious about sticking to the contract there. Any meetings were in the 30 minutes of contract time before students arrived. If they asked us to come at any other time, it was optional and we were paid at a rate of $37 per hour if we chose to come.

    My current district is sort of a mix between those two. They limit after school meetings, but we still have some that we are required to attend outside the contract and unpaid. They do make sure we get our planning and lunch times. Our district is building new buildings and the district level admin were trying to force a push-in model (even though we have no where near the amount of staff to pull it off) by not giving classrooms to specialists. Under the district's proposal, I was going to have a locker to store my purse in as well as a small cart on wheels where I was to keep all of my teaching materials, computer, and confidential files in (for reference, said "cart" would maybe fit materials for two lessons) :rolleyes:. The union fought on our behalf and I now have a classroom.

    One thing to keep in mind is that at least in my area (and most others, I think) if you're a probationary teacher, the union really has no power to help protect your job, like in the case described in the OP. They can try to help support you through meetings and "reason" with your P, but probationary teachers legally can be let go with no reason at all. My state got rid of real tenure, but we do have a non-probationary status that offers some protection.

    Part of the reason that I personally have joined the union is that as a special ed teacher I'm far more likely to be involved in a law suit or due process case. Just in case anything ever does come up, I would get free representation through the union.
     
  6. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 28, 2018

    Most of the Illinois school districts have closed shop unions, as far as I can tell. You don't have a choice. Everyone is part of it. In fact, when I was an aide at one district, non-classified personnel had their own union as well.

    I had some good experiences with unions, and some not-so-good. As most of the others have stated, the union rep should have your back, stand in where in counts, and protect you. Some of my union reps couldn't save their own jobs from the chopping block! Others stood up for me, and put the P in her place, stalled out for me when my job was on the line, and gave me a second chance. In fact, the union rep helped turned a non-rehire into a simple RIF(retirement in force - lack of work) which looked better on paper to future employers.
     

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