Category Archives: Union

Already? Really?!

When I woke up today I already had a message on my phone asking for assistance. No, I did not get up late or at noon; it was 8:00 am!

Such is life when you take on leadership roles.

I went to the school today and worked for a little over three hours. I helped two teachers write their syllabi, sent out some examples to teachers, provided a teacher a few more vocabulary lessons, and then worked on my stuff. Sometimes it seems like my work hours aren’t for me but for the benefit of others. Sigh. At times, teachers are no different than the students: they want what they want and they want it now and they don’t care what I’m doing now. I used to have a sign that read “Let me drop everything and work on your problem” and I miss that sign sometimes. :)

I did start a presentation for my local school district on the effects of pay freezes on employee take-home pay. Teachers in my state have lost between $13,000 and $26,000 over the last six years because of pay freezes, pay cuts, and shortened work calendars. Yikes! I haven’t finished the presentation, but I did figure out the numbers for it.

Then, I worked on updating my syllabi as well as updating my opening week reading and writing assessments. Nothing exciting here except that I decided to change my syllabi into more of a press release format than the typical outline format. I’m curious how the kids react to it.

Once this was completed I mapped out a draft of a meeting schedule for my department’s collaboration time. Since we’re re-aligning our courses to one another and to the Common Core standards, we need to organize the meetings to allow as many people to collaborate as possible. It’s not exciting but needs to be done.

Lastly, I double checked my certification classes. I didn’t need to do much here except see which if my classes have been counted towards my next certificate. While this doesn’t sound taxing, it is tedious because I have to go through my district’s accounting system to see what I’m credited with here and compare this to what the state has me credited with. I need to figure out how to ensure my National Board status is recorded on the state system.

I’m ready to start reviewing my beginning of the year novels, but my area of the building is closed down while the cleaning crews finish. The guys are behind schedule and doing their best, but with staff cuts the last few years and an ever-increasing duty list, the guys are overworked right now. Looks like I won’t get into my classroom until next week.

I cam home and read five education articles. Nothing really jumped out at me this time. More than anything, it looked like a slow news day with the bulk of the content centered on budget updates and construction progress. I only spent about 30 minutes reading the articles.

A War Has Started

Have you seen the video where Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, expresses his strategy to destroy collective bargaining for public employees? Here it is:

The way to destroy unions is to eliminate collective bargaining, which will benefit corporations (who generally support only one side of the aisle). And, it only makes sense. If your interests are to make corporations more powerful and profitable, then paying workers less and reducing their opportunities to vote is a viable strategy.

Get active in your locals to campaign ahead of time. Don’t wait until after a bad election to get active. You might become Ohio or Wisconsin or Idaho.

Unions and the Middle Class

Looking at the chart I provided, it is easy to see the link between unionization and the prosperity of the middle class. However, contemporary society finds it in vogue to blame unions and to try and dismantle them.

The destruction of unions results in the lowering of hourly and salaried incomes, the reduction in employee rights and benefits, and the increase in the number of years needed to retire.

I freely admit that some unions are better than others, and I do not agree 100% with my own association; however, what organization acts in accordance with 100% of anyone’s views? Ultimately, unions are a net gain for workers.

Protect your fellow worker and you protect yourself.

Teach for America Doesn’t Get It

I suppose Teach for America had to respond, had to try and make itself look defensible, but TfA got it wrong. In a response to the NEA denouncing some of its practices, the group stated: “we do not and would not engage in union busting or silencing activities.”

Now, this in response to a business item at the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago (which passed) and stated in part: that the NEA opposes TfA contracts in districts “where there is no teacher shortage or when districts use TFA agreements to reduce teacher costs, silence union voices, or as a vehicle to bust unions.” (I commented on this briefly in a recent post.)

The NEA business item itself came from teachers in Seattle whose district allowed TfA teachers to apply for jobs within the district even though the district had a glut of teachers recently let go because of budgets and teachers looking for jobs already. Seattle had no need for TfA teachers. Teach for America continuously claims that their teachers only go where job shortages exist or in high-need areas, neither of which describes Washington State.

It’s true that TfA teachers are often union members (and this was brought up at the NEA rep. assembly), but it’s also true that TfA teachers come with a “fee for each member” making these teachers more expensive in a time of budget cuts.

Plus, this comes during a time when Washington State is clearly a target of union busting groups like Stand For Children and as Jonah Edelman explained in a much-distributed video. Besides Stand For Children, Washington State has locally-funded groups backed by Bill Gates attacking the schools in Washington State and who sent funding specifically to Teach for America. (And, the only reason anyone engages Gates on education is that he has a fat pocket book, but zero education experience.)

TfA is trying to force themselves into areas where they are unnecessary. TfA is really looking to supplant the teachers already there (as in Seattle where over 46,000 teachers applied for 4,500 jobs and this infusion also hurts our local education programs). Beyond this, TfA has a very poor record of keeping its teachers in education for very long but is very well funded in numerous ways.

If Teach for America was solely looking to help kids not served by public education, it would stay in the identified high-needs areas, it would not need to pay districts to allow it to enter, it would not need to sway board members by promising extras, and it would work alongside public educators instead of working against them.