Union Public Policy Class

Solving the World's Problems One Bulldog at a Time

Teachers’ Unions

So, in response to the question of public unions, I wanted to discuss how the teachers’ union worked and if these unions are successful or stifle progress. On the pro union side, there are several different functions that the teachers’ union performs. It is there to protect teachers from “iron fisted rulers.” This is the idea that is central to all unions. That the boss is oppressive and his or her power must be checked, and that the union serves and the checking power against this administrator. The unions also try to entice better teachers to teach at low performing schools, to bargain for higher wages and more benefits, to keep tenure for teachers, implement teacher peer review programs to keep teachers from falling off in ability after gaining tenure, push for new curriculum, and a host of other functions.

There are problems with the unions though. The first being that tenure allows for more poor performing teachers will not lose their job due to seniority to a more competent teacher who is younger. Also, the union has pushed for an across the board salary system that is based again on seniority and degrees attained not on merit. Many teachers whose lives revolve around teaching and are excellent at their jobs make less than money than their colleagues simply due to the fact that the teacher does not have a high enough degree. However, this happens in almost every job place. The last point of contention is the ineffectiveness of the use of union dues. This hatred is especially true in states like Wisconsin where a teacher can be forced to be into the union. The funny thing about this debate is that it often takes place amongst teachers. There are some who do not believe that the union and want them to be dissolved. However, these teachers get attacked by coworkers and others for reaping benefits and then wanting to cut these benefits for others. It is like the social security debate. How can someone who gained something from a policy measure vote against it for others? My mom is in this category. She always complains about the union, but she felt like she had to join due to the attacks by others teachers against her. I am not saying she was right in joining, but I do want to point out that the mob rules mentality also has a big factor in unions. I hope this is what you wanted Dr. Baker.

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3 thoughts on “Teachers’ Unions

  1. sethbrake on said:

    There are some ways in which public unions seriously bother me, and that is that they can strike. There are some unions which simply should not be allowed to strike. When Calvin Coolidge was the governor of Massachusetts, the police went on strike. Coolidge historically had been friendly to unions and even brokered deals between them and their bosses, but in this case Coolidge fired every single officer and sent in the national guard. His reasoning was that no one has the right to strike against the public safety. Ronald Reagan later used the same reasoning (even referencing Coolidge) when he broke up the Air Traffic Controller Strike. On some level I view teachers unions the same way. Yes, it is great to be able to have collective bargaining, but if it gets to the point where you are willing to jeopardize the education of our children, you have done a great evil to your entire society.

  2. I was an aide in the front office of my high school my senior year, and I remember having to put 150 Alabama Education Association in every single teacher’s mailbox every month. They’d always sigh and most of them automatically threw it away. Joining the teacher’s union was something that was just expected of them because they were in the profession. Most teachers I noticed were never seriously involved in the union, but they just liked the benefits they received. I’m not sure if they’d strike if the union suggested it.

  3. While unions themselves are helpful. I wonder how far they actually do help. Is it not just as possible that the collection of workers for barding rights actually produce the opposite effect? Could it not be said that these sorts of organizing pit the employee against the employer exasperating and already tired relationship between employee and employer?

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