12 March 2007

Union Blues

Washington is a closed shop state for teachers, but I have never been a union member. I do pay fees because I "benefit" from representation in terms of the contract, but I get a refund on my fees each year for whatever non-contract activities they've engaged. Why don't I just join? Because teachers are professionals, not blue collar labor. As long as we act like blue collar labor---especially with our negotiations---we will be treated as such. If we are professionals, like doctors, lawyers, and so on, then we should behave that way. Those are the philosophical reasons. Within the district, I object to the workings of the union because their leadership feels it has a right to be involved with all district functions. Their jobs are to watch the contract---and that is all.

The odd thing about being in my role with the district is that I am a teacher working under the same contract as every other, but neither the union nor other teachers view us in that capacity. We are regarded as administrators---and the union is more than willing to engage in member-member attacks as a result. They have gotten their hands slapped by those levels of the organization which are above them, but it has yet to stop them.

Today, I listened to a conversation between another specialist and the union vice-president (hereafter referred to as the "goon") which was completely inappropriate. The goon wanted the specialist to alter an e-mail going out to teachers about an upcoming materials adoption. (Remember, we are paying them to watch the contract---which does not include how district materials are adopted.) This was so that the goon could "protect" the specialist from attacks by teachers. Pardon me? The union has no business with member-member interactions. If teachers have an issue with contract violations, they deal with it in terms of administration. Finally, the goon mentioned that she was worried that teachers would end up with curriculum that they might not like. Um, it's kids who are accountable. And if there are materials which are better aligned with standards and are grade-level appropriate, then kids deserve to have access to them. I understand that people don't like change---teachers, too. But what happens in the classroom is about kids every day...not adults. As adults, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of students. I'm really tired of union goons who don't get that.


Michael Bains said...

Problem is that too many teachers (IME) are idiots (Not singling them out. Same goes for too many professions.) who thought they were gettin' into a good gig with summers free. They deserve a Union.* The kids, as you point out, deserve better.

I love your take.

Personally, I changed my major from Ele Ed to PolSci (worthless w/o MA) cuz two male teachers I know were hosed by the system for pervert girls' false accusations. Screw that and the old broad w/ whom I did a brief practicum who couldn't tell me enough about how bad it sucked to be her.

(Hope you feel free to delete this if you want. I just got peaked reading your post and had to rant. Good stuff. Really.)

*Unlike Pro Sports Jocks...

Jim Anderson said...

I would buy the "union members aren't like professionals" argument if there weren't so many diverse professions that have unions. Actors, airline pilots, athletes, artists, nurses, writers, government employees... Whether these are "blue collar" I leave to the reader to decide.