Places without unions?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I feel like this might be a dumb question, but I truly don't understand. Not to be too political, but I notice in current anti-education rhetoric people are essentially blaming the teachers' unions for pretty much every perceived weakness with public education. Low test scores, our rank compared to other countries, school violence, you name it, it's the fault of those awful teachers' unions. We have a lot of school politics/reform nonsense in my area and this union thing is a CONSTANT rhetoric among the general public, even people that have nothing to do with education. "Break up the unions" is touted as the fix for absolutely everything. I have seen teachers on this board post that they have "no union." Forgive me for being dense, but does that truly mean some states have nothing? I work in a "right to work" state, but we still have unions. My understanding is that the difference is it's voluntary to join the union in my state, whereas in non right to work states, you have to join no matter what. Ours is also technically called an "association," but they seem to do the same types of things as unions in other states (contract negotiations, providing representation with unfair work situations, etc.) We don't have real "tenure" anymore, but my family members are teachers in OH, which is supposedly a "union state," and they don't either. In fact, my dad was telling me that the weak "non-probationary" status I have is better than what the younger (non-grandfathered in) teachers at his school have in OH. How many states truly have no union, no association, nothing at all? And if there are states that truly have nothing, how is the whole anti-union thing still even an argument (assuming schools in those states aren't performing better than union states)?
     
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  3. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

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    I live in a right to work state and we have "professional associations" as well. Joining is voluntary. To date, I haven't found a lot of benefit of being a member, and I have sometimes wondered what things would be like in a union state- I'm extremely unfamiliar with them. Our association does offer to provide legal representation in the event of a lawsuit, but our state also guarantees legal support for employees anyway. I do get discounts on hotel rooms because of my membership, but that's about it.
     
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  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    That is us with the AEA... legal support (more than the AFT supplies. Lord knows I sure don't ever want to be in the position to need legal help!) and those discounts. AEA also fights for us at the state capitol with the governor and state leaders want to pull the wool over our eyes... like they always try to do. Some people can't stand that AEA gets into politics. WELL when the government is trying to screw over teachers, SOMEONE in politics needs to help us when the governor, the state reps and senators don't.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Mine is a right to work state and we have a union and a few alternative associations.

    Which places don't have unions?
     
  6. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    A job such as teaching needs unions. I blame low test scores on the bias in standardize testing. Teacher Unions has anything to do with those. Under the new administration, unions might be at stake.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I've never taught in a school with a union (just charters). My position has always been an at-will one, meaning it can be severed on either end at any time. While this came in handy when my current school offered me a job without enough time for a two-week notice, it might be a problem if the tables were turned and I was let go. Raises are completely at the discretion of The Powers That Be and are non-negotiable.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Do they negotiate for your contract? That's the major thing that I would say our union ("association") does. It bothers me that people who don't join/pay the dues still get the same benefits the rest of us do. Besides the major things like salary/benefit, ours works really hard to get us things like uninterrupted planning time, limits on the number of staff meetings per month, limits on after school requirements, etc. Our district leadership didn't want the teachers to have any plan time at all when they were negotiating our contract last year (they wanted everything to be used for "collaborative meetings" instead because they feel they shouldn't have to provide "extra time" for salaried staff to get work done). I know having to eat lunch with the kids in classrooms is also a big thing in charter schools around here (no unions there, obviously), and of course ours makes sure we have duty-free lunch time. Mandatory free tutoring after school is also required in many charters around here.

    I know the pay is a LOT higher in my home state (union state) but I'm not sure how much of that is really under the control of the unions. The per pupil funding in my home state is also way more than what we get here, which isn't really anyone's fault at the school/district level. They can only do so much with the money they get.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  9. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    We have nothing in my district. No union or association. We do not have a contract that is over a hundred pages long with negotiatied planning time, lunch duty, etc.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    What state is this? Is there no association in just your district, or is that throughout the entire state? Who negotiated the terms of your contract? Sorry for all of the questions, I'm just really curious!
     
  11. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I've only worked in an incredibly strong union, arguably the strongest in the country. I can't imagine any different, though I will say we are still constantly under attack. At some point, union or not, no state is going to have people who want to be teachers anymore. What will we do then?
     
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  12. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

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    No, they have nothing to do with our contracts. The only reason I am aware that most teachers have a contract that is way, WAY more detailed than mine is because of this site. The contract I sign just states that I am employed in X position for the Y school year. I thought that was normal!

    Our contracts don't guarantee any sort of planning or lunch period, have restrictions on meetings, or anything like that. I am extremely lucky to work in a great district (and at a school with a great administration) that does work to make sure we have planning time, but our gen ed teachers have to have lunch with their students. While we only have one mandatory meeting a week, there is technically no limit on the number of meetings we could have. I've really been considering dropping my association membership. It's $450 a year that really doesn't seem to be doing much for me.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I've only worked with unions, and some unions are more effective than others. My previous union successfully negotiated pay increases and better health benefits for us. I'm not really sure what my current union is doing.

    I hear rumors of a federal bill coming from our US administration that will make every state "right-to-work" which I believe will gut unions. In the places I worked, everyone had to be part of the union because everyone benefited from the work that the union does. (it isn't fair for the non-union members to get the pay increases if union members paid all their dues to make that happen)

    You can choose to not be a part of the union, but the same amount that would have gone to dues you would have to donate to a charity of your choice.

    If every state was right to work, a bunch of people might decide not to join the union, but get the same benefits as those who did join the union, which will demoralize those who did decide to pay union dues and cause more of them to drop out believing that they will get the same benefits, all the while the union becomes weaker and weaker.

    I've never worked in a non-union state, but my friends working in charters say that their pay is very low, often frozen in the face of inflation, and the principals are more like CEOs with full power to drop staff whenever they feel like it if its more cost effective or they just don't like them for some reason. You enjoy more protections in a full-union state.

    That's not to say that bad teachers can't be fired. Evidence just has to be collected and due process followed first. I believe many people are against this, because they don't experience similar protections at their jobs where they can often be let go at any time, and don't like the idea that poor teachers enjoy more protection than themselves in their jobs.
     
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  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    So, the non-union teachers do more.

    I think you answered you own question as to why people blame the union when schools come up short.
     
  15. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    So giving teachers time to pee and eat lunch without children is why schools "come up short?" :rolleyes:
     
  16. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    And apparently time to lesson plan and grade too...
     
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  17. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    What's really interesting is the states with the strongest unions have the highest performing students. States where teacher unions are outlawed or repressed have the lowest performing students. One might argue that having a vigorous teachers union makes for great public schools.
     
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  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think that's an interesting point. It really depends on the charter though. Not all charters do extra things that benefit students. And when it comes down to it, if teachers don't feel valued they will leave for greener grass. Teachers in unionized schools already work themselves to the bone. It is often more extreme in charters and that often leads to high turn-over at charters. One thing I learned in the education business is that turnover is something that really negatively impacts students for the following reasons:

    1. It reduces the number of experienced and effective teachers and they are replaced by less experienced, less effective teachers who take a few years to get up to the point that they are effective. That's 1-2 years where students don't have an effective teacher.
    2. It reduces the amount of strong teacher-student relationships. Especially if the change-up of teachers happens mid-year. Students feel like none of the teachers like them or that they are a particularly disliked class if teachers are constantly coming and going in a classroom within a year. Even between years, the turnover is noticed, and students begin to feel like their school is more difficult than others because they can't keep teachers, when it really might have nothing to do with them.
    3. It sours the working relationships between admin and teachers. Admin treat the staff like low-wage workers who just show up for the pay-check because they don't have time to build any relationships with them before they're out the door, and as the quality of teachers is reduced in a hurry to replace the teachers who leave with any warm body, it begins to feel like all of the teachers they work with have to be as carefully monitored and managed like a retail manager would manage lazy and unskilled workers, not trusting them to make any decisions on their own.

    Forcing teachers to stay longer hours and do extra things for the same or less doesn't make the learning experience better for students. Especially if they don't want to be there, it will be very obvious to students.

    The best schools I worked in for both teachers and students have been ones where the district or schools have determined to treat teachers with respect and as professionals, attracting a wide number of teachers to it, so that they can pick only the very best and experienced teachers to fill their schools. For the extras like tutoring, teachers are offered extra pay and only the ones that really want to do it will, and it makes it so much better for the students because they have a caring adult who actually wants to be there for them. Not someone forced to be in a room with them.

    I guess if we took away all unions, career teachers wouldn't have a choice, and would have to deal with being forced to do extras and being treated less professionally, but I believe that would degrade the profession a great deal, and less teachers would become career teachers.
     
  19. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I teach in Arkansas. I know of very few districts who still have a union, and in at least one of them, the school board is not required to recognize them. Our "contract" is literally one page. We do have some state laws that districts must follow regarding planning time (200 minutes a week that is supposed to be teacher driven, but isn't always), duty free lunch (30 minutes 80% of the time), class sizes, etc. We have Personnel Policy Committees (PPC) that is supposed to be consulted if the board is making a large change in policy, and they are supposed to have the teachers vote on major changes. However, if those changes occur over the summer, they do not have to do that and simply mail the teachers a letter stating the change. You have 30 days to opt out of the said change in policy, but opting out means resigning your position.

    Since the legislature sets the laws regarding most "big ticket" items, most districts have extremely similar policies. I've worked in two different districts, the first was one of the few that had a union, my current one does not. Policy wise, the two districts are the same. The only reason the union was used in my first district was to help people file grievances with their administrators. There aren't nearly as many grievances filed in in current district as there is much less drama.
     
  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  21. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I see your baseless claim and raise you California.
     
  22. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    I have an association, but no union. Like others have mentioned, the association provides liability insurance and lobbies our state legislature, but that is about all. They don't negotiate our contract. My contract is one page that basically says I will work there, and they can pay me anything they want, move me anywhere in the district, and assign me any extra duties. Saying that, my district can't just get rid or me if they feel like it. There is a multi year process to fire a teacher for poor performance. Also, despite not having several of the perks a union would provide, I don't know of any schools around here that don't give their teachers planning and that sort of thing. That is part of working for a good school. I will also say that just because my association doesn't provide me with much I feel I need, I am still a member. I feel it is my responsibility and part of being a professional to be a member of a professional association.
     
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  23. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I worked in a charter my first year of teaching. It was terrible. The instability of a charter was insane. We worked an hour longer than the union job for $20K less in pay. Every single teacher in the building was brand new because they couldn't ever keep anyone. The school had new admin every 1-2 years. People were fired for sketchy reasons and without any coaching or performance plans. The school was in a difficult neighborhood but right down the block from a regular public school. I could never shake the idea that I could be doing the same difficult job 3 minutes away for way more money and benefits. It was no place to make a stable career, especially if you had kids or any kind of health insurance needs. The second anyone was offered a district job, they left.

    I realize this might not be the experience of every charter, but I do believe you have to make some kind of stable and respectful life for teachers in order to keep them. I have no issue with teachers demanding reasonable working conditions. They are educated and deserving professionals. Unfortunately, since most people don't feel that way, the union is one collective voice for making these demands. Otherwise, what leverage do teachers have?
     
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  24. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I live in Texas so I don't have a union to join. I belong to an association that offers legal counsel, liability insurance, CTE hours, discounts, and a magazine. They have nothing to do with contract negotiation. I've only heard of contract negotiations from this board. We simply sign the contract offered or find work elsewhere. My contract is mainly for the district's protection and not really to protect me.
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I just did a cursory google search for the highest ranked states education wise and California seemed to be in the top ten of every list... But again it was cursory.

    Edit: Deeper research seems to provide more varied data. It seems that California is good at getting students to graduate and attend college but their early childhood testing scores are not that great. Do you think that they might start off low (for various reasons such as poverty, the fact that they have more migrant students and ELLs, or other reasons) but get better as they spend longer in the k-12 school system?
     
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  26. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I don't know anything about CA. But I can speak to graduation rates. They are very easy to manipulate.
     
  27. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    California is an outlier in the group. Top 5 (in order/2016 NAEP): Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont. All nearly 100% of teachers in unions.
     
  28. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    There are lots of organizations that rank states and give them grades. Some of these are based on how many for-profit charters are allowed (charter industry rankings). I would look for NAEP scores to get the best comparison.
     
  29. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm in a state with a strong union and a governor who hates us. I'm thankful for my pension, benefits and contract which are all hard fought by my union. I don't love the politics or some of the protection of deadwood, but overall, I do think at my step on the salary scale ((17 years, top of the scale, masters plus 60 credits, high SES district/high performing school, high paying county) , im 'expensive' and that some misguided, looking to earn his stripes administrator would trade in 'expensive' veterans (regardless of effectiveness) for two or three cheaper newbies. My work conditions are pretty good compared to many here: a fifty minute lunch,35 minute planning/meeting time at beginning of day, a 40 minute"prep"/planning period per day, a VERY. Competitive salary, good pd opportunities...
     
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  30. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    This is true. I haven't had a lunch break since I started at my new school, but I'm still expected to be there 8-5.
     
  31. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I love my job. I don't feel like a slave and I want no part of a union. Shockingly, both are possible.
     
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  32. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Just curious, but why do you dislike unions?
     
  33. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Not Rockguykev, but I will share my dislike with unions. Not saying I wouldn't appreciate some of the perks teachers in union states get, of course...

    I've worked at two places that had unions in the company even though those locations were in a right to work state. One of the companies had union representation on site and the union reps would lie, cheat and bully new employees into joining. At that location two coworkers had union reps forge their signatures in order to sign them up, even after the employees made it clear they did not want to. These were great jobs with great pay so rocking the boat to defend yourself was worrisome.

    At the other job there was no chapter at that particular location company policy was dictated by contract negotiations at the main plant where there was a charter. We got the benefits of a union without paying dues. Most people did their jobs correctly. But a good bit, more than the quoted 10%, slacked off, falling back on the union protections. The complaints that the general public has about unions was what I personally witnessed there. Bad employees raked in good money and were nearly impossible to fire.

    Basically everything stereotypical of unions, I experienced at those jobs.
     
  34. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  35. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Some posts in this thread have been moderated for inappropriate or inflammatory language (and others edited to remove quotations of the inappropriate content). Thanks to all who declined to respond in kind.
     
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  36. sophomorehope16

    sophomorehope16 Rookie

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    I've worked with a couple of districts with unions but they're only there to convince new members on getting their money. They are a bunch of big mouths that collect hard earned teacher member paychecks' twice a month every payday but they are no where present whenever you need them. They try to convince prospects to join by telling them that unions protect teachers from bad admins and unlawful termination, representations and such but they only cater to tenured teachers, but still would like to collect from non-tenured ones. And if you fail to inform your union when you resign from school, they will keep on getting money from you including your last pay check. They won't even ask you why you left teaching at your school. Completely useless for me. IMO.
     
  37. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Not really. Alabama has AEA and AFT. Ranks at the bottom of the list. We are thankful for lower states. ;)
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    But these weren't education jobs, right?
    Tenure was never meant to be 'you have a job for lfe'. It outlines protections and rights, but also stipulates how to 'get rid' of thse teachers who 'suck'. The onus is on admin to go thru the proper protocol o get rid of teachers who are not up to snuff, but I really havent ever seen any admin actually take the steps to get rid of such teachers-even though there were cleary some who could be either 'nudged' out or put out thru the process.
     
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  39. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I also feel like some of the problem was due to you working in a "right-to-work" state. I'm not going to defend the actions of your union which were obviously reprehensible, but again, part of the reason why they may have been so aggressive about getting people to join or pay dues is that they felt they were working on your behalf even though you didn't contribute the union, and that kind of dynamic can sour any relationship.

    In other states where union membership is required, you do not get any of that kind of behavior, and instead the unions are focused completely on helping the members of the union, because they know everyone is a member (or at least most of them are).

    And as czacza said, union protections are not there to protect bad teachers, but to make sure that admin follow due process before firing someone on hearsay or for other unsavory reasons. I've known a few teachers to be fired despite being members of the union, and in most cases the union was completely behind that action because they didn't want to sully their reputation by protecting teachers who were terrible for students. All that they required was evidence of it. Both admin and the union shared the goals of improving learning for students in the classroom.
     
  40. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  41. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Those situations don't affect me.m(and truthfully haven't been the case where I am). It affects kids and shame on both those teachers and the Admin who don't do their due diligence.
     
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