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.