Unions & Collective Bargaining - Strengths & Weaknesses

Discussion in 'General Education' started by EdEd, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 8, 2011

    With unions under much attack, and not having personally been a part of one myself, I thought I'd ask:

    What are your personal experiences with unions? Do they deserve the criticisms they are currently receiving? Are the criticisms accurate? Can any teacher who is part of a union share any particularly negative experiences they've had, or anything they disagree with? Do unions end up helping or hurting students?

    I've seen some comments on this in other threads, but thought I'd search out some more thorough discussion...
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Unions stand up for teachers; teachers stand up for students. Without teachers, who will stand up for the students?
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Has anyone experienced that unions have stood up for teachers at the expense of kids? At the expense of taxpayer money?
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Teachers are taxpayers too.
     
  6. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    The union at my fiance's school stood up for the teachers at the expense of the students. In fact, I was appalled by 3 situations between the teachers/union/school at my fiance's school in the last 2 years alone.

    I know I'm young and naive- I understand the importance of unions- but I'm still apprehensive about unions.
     
  7. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Mar 9, 2011

    The union I have is one of the ones who set the class size reduction in motion in the state of California. I think there can be problems-I see some members who really put their ideology over the goal; which is support the worker. But the ideology they stand for is not one that is anti-student. It is more it is one way of looking at questions that effect the students and the teachers. I think the biggest problem for teacher's unions is we are tired hard working people who do not have the time or energy to participate as might be needed. This enables some voices who really are not speaking for the majority to get a chance to talk about stuff that does not really fit with what the union is doing.

    I think overall the union supports the children, we are one of the lowest paying district in the area. So we have been fighting for pay raises which may be seen as for ourselves; but it will have positive effects on the children too-we loose teachers (lots) every year due to the difficulties that can be here as well as the low pay and the high cost of the area. Slowing down turnover has a profound effect on the children's education. The union also has a faculty council which is the only way that the administrators on site are managed at all. The union members meet and document a variety of problems such as undone site maintainance work, admin problems... The union is what held our prep times and thus the specials the children receive even when the district has been trying hard to get rid of it. The unions bargained for the sick leave days, I know what a nasty unpleasant person I turn into on sick days, so the union saves the kids from me on those days!
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 9, 2011

    Good point :).
     
  9. Hermes

    Hermes Rookie

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    Mar 9, 2011

    A lot of the problems with unions are usually ones of perception. For example, many were upset that the Wisconsin teachers protested during school hours, because it "hurt the kids." However, the strike is meant to give a voice to a group of people who are silenced within their own profession and while students aren't in class during the strike, the actions of those teachers will end up benefiting the students in the long run. The end result is more of a voice in education policy by those on the on the front line. When you are being demonized, forced to be a minimum wage worker, someone easily tossed away for any reason under the sun, that hurts the students more than being out of class for a few days or even weeks.

    Another perceived problem is that the unions hurt the business. In regards to teacher unions, a lot of talk has been that the union's "greediness" has been bankrupting the state. That's simply not true and it never has been. The pension plans up in Wisconsin, for example, are paid by the teachers, not by the "taxpayers." But because the arguments are so widespread, vocal and successful, many begin to see the unions as "greedy" instead of that protection teachers benefit from (as well as others, for there are many non-union members who benefit from the work of unions; anyone who says otherwise has no sense of history).

    Those problems that are real within the unions can be addressed by the members. The union is a collective based on votes, just like the United States. If a policy run by the union management (who are hired to make sure the union does its job for the teachers, leaving the members to focus on their work) isn't working out for the teachers, you don't shut down the union to solve the problem. That would be like disbanding the Federal government simply because you found out the guy you voted for is a jerk. But many jump to the conclusion that unions have to be done away with. That isn't a rational decision.

    Just remember, even if you haven't benefited directly from a union does not mean you don't need their services. My father was a union member and he never needed them his entire 35 year career except once. During the time he didn't need them, he worked tirelessly on behalf of others. He negotiated contracts, helped with management, made sure everything was fair for the workers. Then he had health problems that would soon force him to retire. This was during a time when the company was using any excuse to fire the more experienced (and thus expensive) workers. He was only a few months away from actually retiring, but his health wouldn't let him last as a regular worker to reach that time. If the union hadn't protected him, he would've been fired while he was in the hospital. Instead, he was able to receive early retirement and the entire 35 year career that the company benefited from, he still got all he worked for. How would you like to work hard for so long only to be treated in the end like you were some young punk lazy on the job and have it be perfectly legal?

    Remember: the union is not the enemy of the work, but the strength of the worker. It is against the union’s best interest to hurt the company, because without a company there is no worker.
     
  10. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2011

    So true!

    In my district, there was a teacher who was not acting in a professional and sane way. The union did get involved to make sure that she was given fair treatment during this time, but the union also convinced her that she should resign so as not to cause a lengthy and expensive legal matter for either side. The best result for the students was that this particular teacher not continue to teach and that was the outcome.

    Otherwise, I have not seen or heard of another area where the union had to directly step in at my current district. However, I have consulted the union regarding numerous matters to make sure that I follow the appropriate procedures (leave letters, teaching supervisor's kids or other teacher's kids, transferring positions, etc).
     
  11. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    A friend of mine is a high school teacher who belonged to a local union. Last month, the teachers did a "work to rule" strike in which they showed up 10 minutes before school started and left when the bell rang at the end of the day. For two weeks, they didn't grade papers, they didn't write letters of recommendation for their students, and they didn't host extracurriculars. They were fighting for a pay increase (about $40/month), but my friend chose to leave the union and ignore the strike. She was the only teacher in the entire school to do so. She was threatened by the union; she was told her students would be sent back from the office if she sent them there, and there were union reps waiting at the doors to deny access to teachers trying to enter too early. She wrote a letter explaining her desire to leave the union, and they didn't cause her any trouble. She was able to fulfill her teaching duties without incident. Most of the teachers at her school supported her but were afraid of what the union would do to them.

    The whole strike seemed incredibly selfish to me. I'm not originally from a state that allows for collective bargaining, so it was a very foreign idea to me. The teachers where I live earn substantially more than teachers from my home state, and they have much better benefits, but they were willing to risk the well-being of their students for less than $50/month. If I had to choose between joining a union like that or not having a union, I wouldn't join. I know that not ALL unions are like that, but it scares me nonetheless.

    If teachers were fighting for something more serious than a $40/month raise, they should have the right to do something about it, but what? Isn't there a better way than work-to-rule? I think that if class sizes increase the way they are expected in many states, teachers will have to cut back on grading because there's no other option, but refusing to write letters of recommendation for high school students in the midst of college application season? That's dirty.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    What I don't understand is why people think unions protect jobs. Unions do not hire, fire, or decide who gets a job in any way. They protect due process. They make sure that there is actually a good reason that an employee is being fired. They make sure that workers understand their rights and they make sure that the district is allowing them to have those rights. The 8 hour work day (I know haha 8 hours- but we only HAVE to work 8 hours) and the 5 day work week are both around because of unions. Any basic right that any worker has (not just teachers) is the result of a union. Without unions, teachers have no rights to negotiate their salaries. The district could decide to pay you whatever they want with no negotiation. If no one had unions, it's not like you could just go to another district either, because it would be the same situation (not to mention that it's practically impossible to simply "find another job").

    My dad worked at the same school for 15 years with absolutely no complaints. Other teachers had problems with the principal, but they had always gotten along. Then one day the principal asked my dad to lie on some IEP forms to make the school look better. What he was asking him to do was illegal and could have cost my dad his teaching license. When he refused, the principal literally got so angry that he picked up a chair and threw it at him. What do you think the first thing my dad did was? Call the union. Without the union, that principal had more power over him. He easily could have made it look like it was my dad's fault and not the other way around. My dad ended up transferring to another elementary in the district and the principal was fired. That's a perfect example of a good teacher needing union protection.

    I have seen comments on here about people being "forced" to join the union or pay dues for something they're not a part of. I'm not sure about that- in my district it is voluntary, but like the situation I described above- you never know when you're going to need them. It would be a pretty big risk to not be involved- but I think that is your right to take that risk if you want. However, I think that is a whole separate issue. I just wanted to mention it because I think a lot of people that are anti-union on here feel that way because they are "forced" to take part.
     
  13. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    That's interesting, waterfall and others - if I'm understanding correctly, it's almost seen more as insurance in some cases - you might never need it, but if you ever do, better make sure you have it.

    The commonly held belief about union greediness was brought up before - it's interesting because its so hard to define what that is. For example, every teacher in the country could suddenly make $25,000 more each year, and I wouldn't call it greedy - not out of personal benefit, but I believe a strong way to attract the best and brightest to the profession is to offer fair compensation. When my friend can go work for AT&T after college graduation for $72,000/year, I don't think it's ridiculous to think that education needs to offer more to get the best through its doors.

    At the same time, there has to be a theoretical point when there is "too much," or the tactics used to achieve certain benefits are too much. Not sure what those are, though.
     
  14. Hermes

    Hermes Rookie

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    You have to understand that what your friend did was entirely offensive. Imagine you're putting your job on the line, your career even, to not only make things better for yourself, but for your co-workers, too. If the strike was successful and she benefited from that success, she would essentially be leeching off other people's sacrifice. That's a very emotional issue to many in labor, especially those who are striking at the time. It's just something that's completely offensive, to cross the picket line like that. You can't slap someone in the face and not expect any reaction.

    (Note: I'm not giving a pass to violent actions, which sometimes can occur)

    As to the idea of striking for less than 50 bucks: at what point do you let things slide before you realize something needs to be done? It might seem weird to you to fight for a pay raise, but the pay freeze can last a long while if people let it. Considering cost-of-living always rises, you can't ignore pay raises before you start supporting the belief some workers should do what we want without any human dignity or compassion. A strike is a last resort for a union. If the negotiations fail to go anywhere, then there is a strike. And often times, the failed negotiations are due to the management not being reasonable. That's when a strike ensues. It's a dramatic action intended to wake people up not only to the cause at hand, but that it's futile for management to ignore the plight of their workers. The strike expresses the value of the worker. It’s like that saying, you only notice my job when I screw up. Well, sometimes the value of a worker isn’t realized until that worker ceases doing their job.

    Unless, you know, you legislate against collective bargaining. Then you're up the creek without a paddle. You could be a casualty against a boss who dislikes your personality, your religion, who you're married to; or you could be a victim of the game of numbers, where books are fudged to make the school look better than it actually is.
     
  15. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It's dirty to show the powers that be, that you can't actually do your job during the contracted hours? It's dirty to stand up for yourself and show the administration and the community just how much work you do for free? Honestly, I think that if every teacher in this country went on a work-to-rule strike for even a few weeks, the attitudes we encounter just might change, as parents realize just how much we do without getting paid.
     
  16. Rox

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    I once worked with a teacher who was absent at least once per week, yelled at her students daily, and was at one time absent for more than four months due to a "bladder infection". Three of her 6 students were in therapy by the end of the year. She didn't get along with anyone, and often argued with the principal. When she was absent, they hired subs that did not have the qualifications to teach the students, therefore, the students became even further behind than they already were. I was shocked at why this teacher was still there and was told that she couldn't be fired because of the union.

    Granted, I do believe that unions do so much for us, but I have a hard time supporting a union that supports every member, regardless of the impact they have on the students.
     
  17. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    I think it's offensive not to be given the right NOT to participate. She would gladly have refused the pay cut even if the union members received it, but unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. She didn't see the need for a pay increase, and she thought taking care of her students was more important. Other teachers praised her for her decision. They FEARED the union--it's not as if most of them thought the strike was a good idea. If that's how a union functions, I want nothing to do with it. Sure, they would be "fighting for my rights as a teacher," but in doing so, they would be limiting my rights as a teacher.

    I know that not all unions function this way, but this situation left a bad taste in my mouth.
     
  18. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    I just don't agree with that kind of strike ideologically. The students have rights, too. I think it's unfair to punish students for something that is not their fault. Just because the powers that be have treated me unfairly doesn't mean I should take it out on my students.
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Union-bashing absolutely kills me. I honestly don't understand how people think that it's wrong for workers to stand up for themselves, to make their voices heard, to ensure that they have appropriate work conditions and compensation. To hide behind statements like "it hurts students" is silly for two reasons: first, the state or district could certainly meet the demands of the unions and end the strike before it even begins, and second, you know what else hurts students? Having teachers who are miserable in their jobs because they are professionally mistreated. Learning that it's better to sit back and keep quiet than it is to make waves to make things better. Remaining stuck in the status quo because that's how things have always been. Women's rights? Forget it. Racial equality? Not important. Religious freedom? Ridiculous. We have (or are working on) each of those things because people stood up and fought back against unfairness and injustice.

    Protests don't come in pretty packages.
     
  20. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Wow. Didn't realize I'd push so many buttons, and I didn't intend to offend anyone.

    Like the OP, I don't belong to a union nor do I fully understand them. I was simply sharing the only experience I have had with them, and it was a negative one. I wouldn't even consider myself a "union basher." I'm not entirely opposed to them, but I found this particular experience to be very negative. So please, don't jump down my throat for sharing my experiences.

    And to equate my preliminary thoughts on unions with those of someone who doesn't care about civil rights is ridiculous and offensive. I see why people tend to avoid talking about unions on the boards--as a person who isn't totally sold on unions, I feel bullied.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm sorry that you feel bullied. That wasn't my intention.

    It bothers me, though, that your automatic, default opinion on unions is so negative when you yourself admit that you have never been part of one and don't understand how they work. I would kindly request that you educate yourself before you develop those kinds of opinions, but of course I can't force you to do that.

    As for the connection between workers' rights and civil rights? My comments were specifically that by witnessing their teachers be professionally mistreated, our students are learning that it doesn't matter if you fight for what is right. How do you think civil rights started? It was because someone fought for what was right. I'm sorry if you find that offensive but it is the truth.
     
  22. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    A quote from my original post:

    "If I had to choose between joining a union like that or not having a union, I wouldn't join. I know that not ALL unions are like that, but it scares me nonetheless."

    I specified that a union like the one my friend left is not appealing to me, but I also explained that I understand that not all unions work that way. If your first experience with something was negative, if would leave a bad taste in your mouth, too. Of COURSE my opinion is negative--that's all I've seen thus far. I need more experiences to be able to form a more complex opinion, and I admit that. I never considered myself an expert on the matter.

    I have attempted to understand unions since they have made the news quite often lately, but I'm left confused. Unions differ greatly from state to state and district to district. I can't ask people from home because collective bargaining isn't allowed in my home state. My in-laws are from unionized states, and I tried to ask them about unions, and they have absolutely nothing positive to say about them. In fact, they left a unionized state for a non-unionized state partially because they blame unions for the terrible economy.

    The OP asked about our experiences, and I shared mine. I explained that my experience was limited because I wanted to qualify my statement--I wanted to acknowledge that I'm NOT an expert. I didn't expect to be criticized for admitting that my knowledge of unions is limited.
     
  23. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    An interesting side note supporting Caesar's connection between unions and civil rights, for example - unions/organized labor are considered to be one of the main impetuses (is that the plural of impetus - maybe impeti? :) ) of the civil rights movement, particular as it got going in Birmingham some decades ago. One of the ways people in Birmingham learned how to effectively organize collectively for a cause was through organized labor, as Birmingham was big in the steel industry in the early 20th century and organized labor was a big part of that component of society.

    ________

    Perhaps shifting thought a bit, it seems that most people agree that teachers have the right to stand up for themselves, and to protect themselves against unfair working conditions - whether independently or collectively through a union. Given this level of agreement, a few follow-up questions:

    1) Should there be limits on a what a union should do to make its point - doctors, for example, should not be allowed to strike as it would cause an obviously serious issue. In some fields, it is actually against the law to strike because the strike would unduly impede the needs or rights of others. Should there be a limit on striking? If so, what alternative would you suggest to get messages across when it comes to that level of seriousness?

    2) If you are not supportive of unions, what other methods of standing up for teachers' rights have you found to be effective or would you suggest? I think it's important to make the point, also, that there are some good districts, schools, etc. where there is fair treatment of teachers as commented by some other forum-goers here. If this is your situation, putting your district aside, what would you advocate for those who do need to be stood up for?
     
  24. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Porque pig (great name by the way), I think you're totally valid for sharing the thoughts you have - yes, qualified thoughts according to the limitations of your knowledge and experience is important, but on a forum I think sharing thoughts that conflict with those of others is healthy, and how we learn.

    You're right - I am the OP - and I think there is a difference between 1) formal statements about unions and 2) people's individual perspectives. One great thing about a forum like this is that it gives educators from all over the country the opportunity to share experiences. There are folks out there that would vehemently disagree with union supporters as some here have vehemently disagreed with those who don't support unions. Again, qualified your statements as your experience is good, but as long as that happens, I am personally glad to have heard your voice as that's what I was curious about - people's individual experiences across the country.
     
  25. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I have been in 3 unions in the 13 years that I have been working. I was in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union for 6 years (worked at a grocery store), and then at a factory where I worked during college in the summer, and now in a teacher's union. I have mixed feelings about unions. For the most part, I think they do good. I do have a choice of whether or not I want to be in the union, and I choose to be a member.

    I have had 2 jobs where there wasn't a union. I worked in after-school care at a private school during college (where I also subbed a bit). They had to eliminate a teacher at the end of the school year. If they had been part of a union, they would have had to eliminate the newest teacher, who was an excellent teacher. However, they were not part of a union, so they eliminated a teacher who had been working at the school for a while, but she wasn't a great teacher, and many parents complained about her. The school did what was best for the children.

    The thing that I'm worried about in Wisconsin is that when I start to gain experience and make more money, I will be given a non-renewal notice (if there is not a union). The new proposed budget cuts education costs by $900 million, which is very damaging to all districts. If my district is forced to make cuts, I may be ok now, because I have only been teaching for 3 years. The district may keep me because I am cheap. However, once I start to make more money, I may be given a non-renewal. So, not having a union may help me now, but it may hurt me later.

    I have heard about districts in Wisconsin who are going to give teachers who make $60,000+ all non-renewals because of the budget cuts. So, even then, it's all about the money. They aren't eliminating the ineffective teachers now that the unions may be gone-they're just eliminating the expensive ones.

    Sorry, I feel like I was rambling!
     
  26. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    I don't mind unions. But I do mind before forced to pay union dues when I want nothing to do with them.

    I don't like being forced to strike so kids cannot attend class.

    Police/fire can't strike, I don't see why it's such a big deal if teachers cannot.

    (Minnesota perspective.)
     
  27. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Thanks, EdEd! I'm learning a lot about what unions do on this board, and it's a good learning experience to find out why union supporters believe in their unions. It's a perspective I haven't encountered very often among my friends and family, so living in a unionized state for the past two years and seeing what people on here think has been very eye-opening.
     
  28. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Teachers don't need to strike. As was posted earlier teachers just need to work to rule. Work the hours they are paid for and no more. One of two things would happen. Either the school system would creak to a halt or we would suddenly discover that 50% of what we do has no effect on education and we can stop doing it forever.

    We are in a similar situation in the UK. Our new Government is using the economic situation to take on the unions. Free schools (charter) and Academies are being set up where they will be non unionised (in fact the free schools won't even need qualified teachers). Get enough of those running and the regular schools that are left will be out on a limb.

    The purpose of taking away union effectivness is to drive down pay and attack pensions. Is having a poorly paid and poorly qualified (why would you want to use your degree to teach for minimum wage) workforce good for the students?
     
  29. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Blazer I see what you're saying, but I just don't agree with it.

    A person is paid based on the value of their work, period.

    I can show you union jobs/businesses that pay minimum wage.

    Those people push carts and do what we term unskilled labor.

    Teachers pay is not the best, but I highly doubt it will get much if any worse without unions.

    Teachers are quote unquote skilled employees.

    The business equivalent would be mid to high level managers who are not in the union.

    (Local business here: non-union managers entry level start at 60k. Production-labor with a union starts at 35k.)

    To quote wikipedia, probably the reason the public is loving to attack government union's (because let's be honest, a business will be bankrupt, but the government can just keep raising taxes when they can't afford the forced increases.)

    "Although the union wage premiums have fallen for private sector, it has raised for the public sector in the U.S.[6]. Union wage premiums also usually raise the wages of low-skilled workers more than those of high-skilled workers"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_wage_premium
     
  30. Hermes

    Hermes Rookie

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    Mar 9, 2011

    The workers vote to strike. If the teachers were afraid they were only afraid of themselves and each other, not the union heads. There may be confusion between strong talk in favor of the strike, before and during the strike, and with bullying; but it's not the same. There are going to be people who take a negative view of certain things, for political or social reason, and conflate something into what it isn't.

    I never said she didn't have a right NOT to strike. I just said it was offensive to the strikers.

    And, sure, she might not think the pay raise is necessary. But that doesn't mean it isn't. You won't believe what people believe isn't necessary for a recovering cancer patient, but is absolutely crucial for their care. 50$ extra may not seem like much to someone who is single, or without kids; but it's a lot to a single parent with three children.

    But that's okay. Some people don't stand up for the rights of every person, because they don't see a person needs certain rights, so they see it as okay to pick and choose when they want to stand up for themselves, their profession, or co-workers. But many don't, especially those in unions. I mean, if she was in a union and she voted against striking, but lost--that’s like voting for a government that ends up creating a law she disagrees with. Will she break the law simply because she doesn’t see it as necessary?
     
  31. Hermes

    Hermes Rookie

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    Mar 9, 2011

    And that’s a point. It’s the value of the worker that becomes the problem between the workers and management. When management values the worker less than the work being produced, conflict rises. In a profit-seeking business, growth is an absolute must. There are times when management seeks growth and profit through cuts within the business. Sometimes this could be good, leading to efficiency. But it can also happen on the backs of the laborers. Wages will be slashed, benefits taken away, jobs moved overseas, just so people being paid millions will see (an absurdly) bigger paycheck than last year. It looks good on the resume; it builds confidence for getting more money to build with. The only way to fight this sort of thinking, the “greed is good” that destroys the worker (and, eventually, work force) is to stick together and collectively say “No!” to such treatment. Union members will say, “I am worth X amount and so is everyone else.” They fight not just for themselves, but those who will come after them, those they’ll never meet.
     
  32. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Mar 9, 2011

    I hate my union, period. If they worked to rule, I wouldn't do it (and that discussion came up). If that's offensive to them, FANTASTIC! I'm offended by their behavior and their attitudes toward students. This may be long, but I will elaborate as to my reasons:

    I strongly believe my union pushes for teacher rights and privileges at the expense of students. Our union has fought to bar students from the building until 8:00 (10 minutes before start time) because many didn't want students coming into their rooms during morning planning time, and didn't want to have anyone assigned to hallway duties in the morning to monitor the kids (we used to have a rotating schedule for this). They won this fight, and now kids can't come in. Thus... I cannot have kids come in for help in the morning, no morning study sessions, nothing. I had suggested simply having the teachers that didn't want to work with kids in the morning close/lock their doors, but apparently that wasn't good enough.... *insert sarcasm* no, we needed to ban them from the building.

    The administration wanted to offer a "zero hour" next year, where kids can volunteer to take an early bird class to get an extra elective in, or leave early (not have a last period) for athletics. Anyone teaching such an early bird class would be on an entirely voluntary basis, so no teacher would be forced to come early. The union objected to this as a change in working conditions, and stated it was not permissible... even if voluntary. They are working to block this right now, to prevent it from happening next year.

    Or our lovely "bumping" system, which they pushed hard into our contracts several years ago. This is where a tenured teacher can bump any non tenured teacher from any position they're qualified for. This was delightful when we hired a fantastic new physics teacher, but the following year a math teacher (also science certified, but never taught physics) wanted to "give physics a try". He bumped this other teacher, and because this teacher only had a science certification, he had to be let go. We then hired another math teacher.

    If I ever get the privilege of offending my union, I'll be thrilled. Pardon my language, but they can all go screw themselves. Yes I'm bitter. And while I recognize and am grateful for the fact that they negotiate on my behalf, the harm they do infuriates me. If I could quit, I would... but I don't live in a right to work state. I am forced to pay dues. If I don't, I lose my job.
     
  33. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Mar 9, 2011

    It bothers me that you would start your post by saying it wasn't your intention to bully another member, then follow it with a derogatory statement that does just that.

    I also loved your previous post where you denounce people "hiding behind statements of 'it hurts the children'", then wrap yourself in the very same cloak with your next statement.

    Hermes did the same thing on the first page with this statement...

    "When you are being demonized, forced to be a minimum wage worker, someone easily tossed away for any reason under the sun, that hurts the students more than being out of class for a few days or even weeks."

    NO! - these things do NOT "hurt the students" at all. They might hurt the teachers, but we are supposed to be adults and professionals that can put such things aside during class time so that our students do NOT "suffer" because we don't like parts of our job or treatment. At least be honest enough to admit these things bother YOU (as an educator) and quit trying to say it hurts the kids. If this treatment DOES hurt the kids, it's only because the teachers allow it to happen. There IS a time to vent (and even rant) about such treatment, to be upset about it and to seek ways to improve it. But that time is NOT in the classroom when your personal situations may affect the students you are teaching.

    As for the statement that students witnessing teachers being professionally mistreated are "learning" it doesn't matter if you fight for what is right - that is just a load of hogwash and one more attempt to cloak yourself in the transparent veil of "it harms the students".

    Most students I know don't have a CLUE about how teachers are treated by admin, nor do they know what the teachers are paid or how many extra hours they work outside the classroom - and they wouldn't care if they did. Many students have personal problems and home lives that are far worse than any "unprofessional treatment" we might receive as teachers.

    I also like how union supporters are so quick to attack critics and claim they don't know what they are talking about (or don't care about their fellow man :rolleyes: ) when we've had at least 3 individuals give PERSONAL experiences regarding unions that should make even the most ardent supporter say "You're right, that shouldn't have happened."

    Finally, the comment that porque pig's friend wasn't being bullied or intimidated falls flat on it's face when the union has "representatives" at the door to DENY entry to ANYONE before the appointed time. That is nothing short of thug tactics, no matter how you spin it or dress it up.

    If you like and support unions, that's great. Many of them DO provide a great service for their members and give them the back-up they need against hostile admins or parents, but there are also many unions out there that only care about increasing their own leverage and control and DO force (or demand) actions from their members that ARE harmful to the students.

    If you don't like unions, that's fine too. There are enough horror stories available to offset much of the good many unions accomplish. But BOTH sides need to realize that neither of them are absolutely right and that there SHOULD be some type of compromise or middle ground between the two extremes.

    I live in a right-to-work or at-will state. I can be fired from any job for no other reason than "You're services are no longer needed". My state doesn't allow unions (to the best of my knowledge), but I would still rather work in my home district than anywhere else in the world. I have a great admin team, supportive coworkers and wonderful community support in our school.

    I freely admit I am generally ANTI-union, but I do recognize the value many unions provide to their members and I'm willing to listen to the good points, as long as the supporters are equally willing to acknowledge the bad points.
     
  34. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Mar 9, 2011

    North Carolina is a right to work state. Unions are illegal for teachers, there is no collective bargaining, and we have not received pay raises in a couple of years.

    Here tenure only means a right to due process. Supposedly it is hard to fire a tenured teacher, but that is not really true if the admin is politically active, or unethical, and knows how to play the game.
     
  35. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2011


    I sincerely didn't intend to bully anyone. You can choose to believe that or not.

    I'm glad that you loved my post. I suspect, however, that you are being sarcastic. If that's the case, I feel like you missed my point. My point was that while union-bashers always say that the union is hurting children, union-supporters often feel the opposite.

    I'll go ahead and add what bothers me. In my four years or so as a member on this board, I have never regularly felt so attacked and bullied. Private messages that are rude, users "following" me into other threads and bringing up issues that they disagreed with me on in unrelated threads, and assumptions and claims that I'm "bullying" or being "derogatory" when I am also just posting my personal experiences, observations, and opinions, just like the posters who claim that I'm bullying. That's what bothers me. It's entirely possible that I'm bringing all this upon myself because I'm some tremendous b!tch. It's also possible that there are people here who are just quick to dislike me and therefore jump all over my posts whenever they get the chance. So, yeah, that's what bothers me, since we're talking about what bothers whom.
     
  36. Hermes

    Hermes Rookie

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    Mar 9, 2011

    If you don't feel comfortable talking about a topic without losing control of your feelings, you should avoid the topic entirely. No one bullied anyone. Caesar was being nice and polite. I'll avoid that, because it seems it needs to be said. Expressing a different view point--even with passion--is not bullying. No one called anyone names, no one attempted to shame anyone into silence, and no one was harassed. What everyone did was either express their opinion or give an explanation. Before accusations are handed out, perhaps it is best to sleep on it or count to ten.

    Now, on to the points of your post.

    I'm assuming you meant by "Hermes did the same thing" that I wrote that tearing down the teacher profession hurts the students. If you mean I did like Caesar and appear to write one thing and do another, you'll have to explain it a little more. I don't see it. I'll assume the first right now.

    Your explanation of my quote makes the teachers seem insidious, which isn't what I was referring to when I wrote of students being hurt. I explained what I meant earlier and elsewhere, in another thread, and probably just assumed that it would carry over. What I meant is, when teachers are attacked like they're now being attacked and treated not like professionals, their voice in education declines. They become less than what they are. So those who deal with the students daily, who know those students first-hand, don't have a say in the education or the welfare of the child. There are many instances where we see this happen. There will come a day, unless we do something about it, where teachers are treated nothing more than minimum wage workers, who are told to do their job and not open their mouth. I don't see, and many others agree, how a student can thrive socially or academically in such an education environment. And it doesn't matter how professional the teacher acts: soldiering on only emboldens those who do not want any resistance in their decisions. Being professional is required; but there comes a time when you have to say no to your boss's unethical practices, even if it's in front of the customer.

    Maybe I glossed over it, but I don't think anyone has done this. If you're talking about when I responded about the lone teacher crossing the picket line, I wasn't claiming it was fiction. I was giving an explanation.

    Standing in front of a door so no one can pass by is not a thug tactic. Unless she they took a swing or a kick at her, just standing in place isn't an assault. If you go back to my post, you'll note I wrote that I was against violence used in protests. I'm no a deity just because I support unions; if a person loses their temper and makes a bad decision all I can do is call them out on that action. I can't force them not to lose their temper. This isn't a Phillip K. Dick novel. Yet.

    The reason I've been vocal about the union issue isn't that I'm going around saying anti-unionists are thugs or just plain wrong or any other name one can think of. I'm giving an explanation to what a union is and does, because in reading statements it seems to me that there are misperceptions of what the union is doing or that the union is perceived as some outside force controlling the teacher. It's not. It's a collection of members who vote on who runs management, on what decisions are made, and what actions are taken. If you don't like the way your union is being run, you're not powerless, because YOU are the union, if you are a member. You can voice your complaint at a meeting and get a vote for change. You can persuade your fellow members to vote for you if you can. If you can't, well, that's the nature of democracy. Because, really, what a union is is a mini-democratic state. Just like you vote for your government representatives and even laws, you vote in your union for your representatives and how its run. I firmly believe in that power, that power to vote, and when I see people complain about their union not working the way they think it should, I'm not writing to tell them to shut up and take what they're given--I'm trying to encourage them to make use of their power as a member of a union.
     
  37. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2011

    The kids know and the kids care. Just today the students at a school in my district organized a protest against the district's announcement that it would be closing and restructuring the school because it failed to meet AYP. The students organized it. They understand that their teachers are being punished for things beyond their control. This isn't specifically a union issue, but it's definitely connected to what's happening to teachers and districts around the nation. Kids in my classes have asked me what's going on with the budget and unions and how all of it will impact them.

    From the article:

    “I don’t think it’s fair that they want to punish our teachers and our principal for something that’s not the teacher’s fault,” 16-year-old junior Brittoni King said.

    The protest “shows how much we support our teachers and administrators, and how much we want them to stay,” she added.

    King’s mother, Brenda Roney, agreed: “I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think you should grade teachers on their students’ test scores, and that’s basically what they’re doing. They are punishing the teachers because the students have low test scores.”


    The entire article:
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/mar/09/students-protest-school-districts-plan-reorganize-/
     
  38. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2011

    So I'm new here, but I've definitely noticed this topic coming up on a few threads - when things tend to get personal. Just from my perspective, I think that some things are meant one way, but when typed out may be read another. Without the benefit of facial expressions, knowing each other personally, etc. things can be taken the wrong way. I think one thing that tends to lead to things becoming personal is when there is a statement that is interpreted as either being not respectful, overly emotional, or not responding to the merits of points previously made. For example, when someone says, "Well, if you think ____ you obviously must _____" in disagreement with the person - I would imply a tone from the word "obviously" because I can hear the sarcasm, condescension, and or disrespect. I think disagreeing respectfully with a point is one thing, but when it appears that someone is aggressive, personalizing things, making assumptions, etc. I think people tend to respond more defensively.

    Also, I have some friends that I know in "real life" that have more sarcastic, blunt, and aggressive personalities, and because I know the hearts of those people, their perspectives, and more about them as a whole, I tend to tolerate things said in a certain way from them more than if I didn't know the person at all.

    I'm not saying this about anyone in particular, just that I've noticed some incendiary statements that end up turning into a distraction from the "real conversation."
     
  39. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Mar 10, 2011

    I was union member for close to twenty years. Our union helped us get better pay, benefits, et cetera. This was fine when the economy was good and the town could afford the better pay and benefits. Now, when the town honestly does not have enough money the union demands the same things, but the town cannot afford it. This is where issues arise and the unions actions, absolutely are hurting kids.
     
  40. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2011

    Here is your response to porque pig....

    It bothers me, though, that your automatic, default opinion on unions is so negative when you yourself admit that you have never been part of one and don't understand how they work. I would kindly request that you educate yourself before you develop those kinds of opinions, but of course I can't force you to do that.

    Your "request" that she educate herself comes across as very condescending and more than a little arrogant. Maybe that isn't the way you meant it, but that is certainly the impression it gives. PP had also admitted she didn't think ALL unions were like the one her friend experienced, but she DID have knowledge of how that particular union had treated her friend and other members. All of that was ignored. You also opened your previous response with "Union bashing absolutely kills me".

    I'm sorry, but pointing out examples where a union did NOT act in the best interests of it's members, school or students there is NOT "bashing", it's simply stating a fact. And we've had more than one example listed of unions NOT acting in the best interest of the kids or school.

    You're right, I was being sarcastic. I think you missed my point as well. I've seen just as many union supporters wrap themselves in the cloak of "it hurts the children" as I have union critics (btw, I don't consider legitimate criticism to be the same as "bashing", hence my choice of a different term). Did the example PP listed harm the students? I would say it did. The union declared a work-to-rule strike, which meant teachers only worked the actual hours they were contracted. OK, that's fair enough and I can support doing that to show how much EXTRA work they actually do each day. However, their REFUSAL to grade papers, write reference letters, etc during the strike DID harm students because that IS part of the teacher's job and I would bet every one of those teachers had at least one planning period which could have been used to grade papers or write those letters. Instead of just doing the work they could during that time, the teachers basically said "We're going to show up and do the absolute minimum work we can". Even if that were the point, grading papers is STILL part of the every day job and there is no excuse for NOT doing that - OTHER than to apply extra pressure to get what they want. So, in that case, they ARE putting their OWN desires ahead of what is best for their students.

    I don't dislike you nor do I think you're a tremendous bitch. I just happen to strongly disagree with some of your posts in this particular thread and I responded in a strong manner to point out the issues I disagreed with the most.I NEVER take responses like that to a PM precisely because the recipient can claim I said all manner of things in a PM and there is no way for me to prove that didn't happen. So I say what I have to say out in the open for everyone to see. That avoids the possibility (for the most part) of people claiming I said something in a PM that I didn't (I've had that happen before on different forums). It also allows others to either defend OR criticize what I have to say.
     
  41. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2011

    I did mean you and Caeser seemed to be doing the same thing; complaining about conditions that affect YOU as a teacher, but then saying these same conditions also "harm the students". I had planned to respond to your post before Caeser posted hers, but when she echoed the same sentiment, I decided to respond to the two together.

    I appreciate your more thorough explanation of what you meant and agree with the points you make about teachers defending their own rights as an employee. You listed valid concerns. However, I still disagree that this directly "harms the student". Even if we did reach the point where we are treated like minimum wage workers who are told to do our jobs and not open our mouths, that STILL should not prevent the students from growing socially and academically. There are "politics" and conditions in every school that teachers don't like. There are also decisions made by administration that teachers disagree with. NONE of that should ever affect how you treat your students, though. Everyone that goes on outside the classroom should be kept right there - OUTSIDE the classroom. Yes, I understand it is very hard to do a quality job when you feel mistreated, abused or unappreciated, but we are adults and should be able to separate how WE are treated from how our STUDENTS are treated by us.

    Even if I was paid minimum wage, I could (and should) still give my very best effort to educate the kids I have because it is not their fault I am being mistreated, so what happens to me should not affect them.

    Oh, btw, I do feel comfortable talking about a great many topics and most of the time my responses are very analytical, but sometimes that isn't the best approach. My response was more "emotional" this time, but that was by design to highlight the issues I disagreed with most strongly.


    Standing in front of a door so no one can pass is a form of intimidation. It might be silent intimidation, but it is intimidation nonetheless and that IS a "thug tactic" in my opinion. The teacher in question wanted the option to NOT be part of the protest and NOT benefit from the pay raise. She should have the right to do so without any form of intimidation or harassment from union officials or representatives.

    I wonder if you would still have considered it such a benign tactic if the school district was the one that placed "representatives" at the doors to hinder access to the protesting teachers.


    Again, I appreciate you providing a more thorough explanation. That was one of my intentions when I made my previous post. I chose to "call out" you and Caeser on your comments just as you have chosen to call me out on mine. We both have the same intentions in that respect, and that is to make the other person look more closely at what they are saying, how they are saying it and (most importantly) how it might be perceived by others.
     

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