12 April 2008

The Critical Mass

I was told that the last time the teachers' contract was up for ratification in this district, just 15% of the membership was involved. As I think about this, I'm wondering who The Union actually represents? On the face of things, they supposedly represent all teachers...but the longer I am in this business, the more I discover greater numbers of teachers for whom this is not true. They may have money deducted from their paychecks (and not by choice) to fund Union graft, but feel that there is no sense of their professional values present in what is negotiated. They are a silent majority---at least for now. It would seem that they are trying to figure out what the next steps will be.

More and more, I'm sensing that there is a greater mass of discontent with unions. Whether it's been editorials in the New York Times or posts and comments in increasing numbers of blogs (like From the Trenches), there is far more critique of unions now than when I first started writing. While I don't think the public at large would deny teachers the benefit packages (health, dental...) that come with the job, I do think that they are wising up to the stranglehold unions have that makes tenure a greater priority than good instruction for children.

I recently heard from a friend here who made the choice to drop membership and become a fees payer. It was a decision mulled over for awhile, but in the end there was a realization that membership carried an agreement that the things the out of touch prez and her Little Dictator sidekick promote are okay. It just isn't. In a meeting with admin, if the admin claims that a teacher has waived the right to due process, shouldn't the prez bother to ask the teacher if this is true---rather than roll over for admin? Should crying when you don't get the outcome you want (as is often the case with the LD, much to admin's amusement) drive the decision making process in the district? Shouldn't it be incumbent on The Union to demonstrate that whatever views they push forward are truly those of the majority of members? Because if they're not---and the admin knows that 15% of membership is behind union leadership---it's not a very strong bargaining position. It would seem that The Union was interested in survival, it should seek out this critical mass and find out how to represent them.

2 comments:

Hugh O'Donnell said...

The big question union leadership needs to ask is, "Is what we're doing good for kids?"

Additionally, people that opt out of the union for idealistic reasons only expose themselves to abuse from admin, because although the disenchanted teacher pays fees, the union won't represent them righteously. In fact, the union will pay lip service, then abandon ship in a flash.

How do I know? I've been there and seen that first hand.

The Science Goddess said...

I think many of us have, unfortunately. But as long as people are willing to turn a blind eye---or are too afraid to be heard---these sorts of practices will continue.