16 June 2007

Get a Grip

Many of us in the district have realized what an out of control union exists in our midst. It doesn't take much contact with other districts to discover that they don't have nearly the same issues in trying to effect positive change for children. Some cases in point just from this week...

An elementary teacher was telling others in a group how some at her school went to their union rep because the policy around field trips was changing. Um, what exactly does that have to do with your working conditions? Does it change your benefits or pay? Perhaps not being able to access a bus on certain days interferes with how your administrator supervises or evaluates you? I don't get it. What do the procedures for student field trips have to do with a teacher's contract? There was a look of puzzlement on the faces of a few others in the room (along with some rolled eyes). The Union is there to watch the contract, not go "there, there" whenever anything comes up that a teacher doesn't like or think is fair about the world.

Meanwhile, The Union negotiator asked that I not attend a presentation happening in the near future. This is the same one who takes great joy in rubbing the nose of one of my co-workers into the fact that there is a "fees payer in the office." Horrors! Run! There is someone who doesn't buy her line. Who knows what she's after this time, but the impact of this news on those who had requested my presence only serves to give more reason to distrust The Union. There are things that they must wish to hide.

I could go on about the excited salivation by one teacher this week about the "emergency phone tree" being developed around contract news for the summer.

Or perhaps how I listened to teacher after teacher beg to pilot the new math materials next year but because The Union is complaining about teacher workload, these teachers can't have what they want and what kids need.

I don't know what it will take for people to get a grip. I only hope that someone can tame The Union beast before any more damage is done.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

SG, If you're a dues-paying union member, you can go to whatever meetings you choose.

To single you out because you're what we call a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) is both rude and naive of the union negotiator. Any teacher in that room could run to any administrator and tell all. It happens all the time.

A more worldly union negotiator would request -- at the meeting -- that all members keep the "confidential" info to themselves.

As for goofy faux "grievances," excellent leadership at every level and in every domain is what makes the institution exceptionally functional. If you have it at the top, your district has hope. Same with the union. If not, good luck. ;)

Dr Pezz said...

Does your local association have a positive relationship with the district?

It definitely seems as though people on the union staff and from the schools need to understand the union's purpose and limitations.

The Science Goddess said...

The relationship between union and administration is slowly improving, however in the process of trying to be more "open" on the district side, the union has misunderstood that to mean that they have a right to a voice in every decision made.

Dr Pezz said...

I understand that sentiment. I was just elected to be the high school rep for our local union, and many people have a faulty understanding of how or when the union can/should be used.

So far, my biggest concern is that the teachers who publicly disparage the union have benefited greatly in private. They utilize the advantages and then bash it openly.

I'm not really a "union guy," but I figure this is a way for me to better understand the perspective having recently finished a position in a pseudo-administrative role. We are fortunate to have a very positive relationship in my district.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Details: Our supe attends monthly breakfasts at which the district and the union take turns footing the bill. In attendance are 1) a board member, 2) the supe or an ass't supe, 3) the classified union prez, 4) the certified union prez, and 5) a principal from one of our 32 schools.

Union leaders attend every board meeting.

We have moved to the collaborative mode in negotiating contracts.

The phone lines are all open.

Board members don't micro-manage, but everyone is comfy talking to everyone else.

Board members all serve on negotiating teams.

The supe puts the best people in all the jobs as they come open, or, if need be, makes openings!

There's more, but to make a long story short, it's everyone's job to make the system productive and the bottom line is, "keep the kids in mind at all times."

Hugh O'Donnell said...

I forgot to say, we don't have all the answers -- not even close to perfection, but we're lurching in the right direction(s). ;)

The Science Goddess said...

I think that the key motivation of "keep the kids in mind at all times" is what is missing here. The Union leadership certainly doesn't have that in front of them...and I see signs that the administration isn't holding the standard as highly as in previous years.

Leticia said...

Very well said! I have taught in inner city districts where my life was in danger, yet I never heard this crucial issue addressed by my union!