Union Dues

One of the many aspects of this job that no one really discusses before you get hired is the fact that many of us are in unions. We pay union fees, have the benefit of union representation if there are issues with your performance, and negotiate for pay increases through the union.

Over the last nine years I have been teaching, we have had several situations that required the union to actively fight a school board or superintendent for stability, cost of living increases, etc. This year is proving to be the most contentious yet. Conflicting information is constantly being thrown back and forth. Teachers are talking that the distance between the two sides has never been bigger. We have picketed a board meeting and the school. It has been ugly. And, unfortunately, I think it is only going to get uglier. Fear is in the air, potential layoffs have been announced, seniority is being determined. Simply writing this makes me a little nervous (and one of the reasons I moved this blog).

What I have noticed over the years though, is each time this happens, we see a coming together that doesn’t otherwise seem to exist among teachers. Yes, we share a district, a school, even students in some cases, but we rarely carry the same greater cause (above and beyond the incredible cause of preparing our students for life after high school, of course). When over 400 teachers (of about 1100) picketed a board meeting last month, I felt the same kind of energy I experienced in college at various protests. However, this time the stakes are much more real. I have a family and a mortgage.

I wonder what the community thinks? Are we greedy for wanting a cost of living increase? Do they sympathize? What story will they believe? Does it matter?

6 thoughts on “Union Dues”

  1. I know the story, it is almost identical in the district where I teach (in southern Calif.)

    It is sad that teachers have to scrap for the money alloted to them by the legislature. Our superintendent always wants contract language in exchange for money or to increase the district cap for health insurance. As Dr. KOP tells his admin. wannabes that he teaches on the side, “its like peeling an onion,” you take a bit at a time until they are left with next to nothing. OF course, Dr. KOP should be exiled from this country, IMNSHO. (In my not so humble Opinion) Good Luck. Keep your head down. Those here who get involved too much get targeted by the administration……as I found out from personal experience.


  2. I’ve been watching San Diego since Bob Hogan was your Union’s President.

    Over here in the “Imperial” Valley, our Union Honchos don’t want member participation, will not allow dissenting opinions to be expressed, refuse to have transparent elections or financial accountability, and never seem to have any time to do any of the actual “leg work” needed to build a strong, effective, and democratically-run union.

    But they always seem to find the time to go to conventions in Washington, Las Vegas, and Anchorage(!!) Alaska.

    The result is that our unions are weak and ineffective. We have had no pay raises at all for three years, and now have to pay more for health insurance. (a pay cut, really)

    Meanwhile, the District requires ever higher levels of performance from its teachers.

    I wish that you could send some of that effectiveness over here.


  3. Polski summed it up in one sentence:
    It is sad that teachers have to scrap for the money alloted to them by the legislature.The one fault with teachers, and unions, is that we spend 90% of our energies fighting over the scraps at the bargaining table.

    What would happen if we could muster just 36% of our members (the same 400 of 1100 mentioned in the original post) to picket the state legislatures? Each district taking a different day. Several districts teaming up, sending in spokesmen.

    What would happen if only 1% of the 2.7 million NEA members contacted their state legislators and Congressmen in the same week. And then did it the next week, and the next, and the next?

    That would be impressive: an awakening truly worth something.


  4. Great blog and thoughtful post. I’m a union man myself. About three years ago several thousand of us descended upon our state (Idaho) capital to protest budget cuts and the general mistreatment of teachers by legislators. After protesting on the Capitol steps, we returned to our jobs. The next year even more punitive e measure were taken to “teach those teachers a lesson.” I’m urging my union to return to the capitol. Of course, you have to remeber that Idaho is the reddest of the red states. Linked to you post over at my blog, The Endless Faculty Meeting, http://wildwilliam.blogspot.com I’ll be back soon. Keep On Keepin’ On


  5. If this is about money, then perhaps allow me to share my experience from my country of Singapore.

    We also have unions, but the union hardly fights for us. (What the hell do we have unions for then?)

    The reality over here is that many teachers are giving private tuition after school hours. Our official school hours are bascially from 0730am – 1430pm.

    And yes, private tuition pay is pretty lucrative. At a per-hour rate, the teachers pull in more than their official teaching job.

    I think for those who give private tuition, high chances that their take-home pay is increased by at least 15%.

    Do teachers in America give private tuition? Well, is private tuition popular amongst American students? Over in Singapore, it is a huge industry. Many students have private tutors at home or in private-tuition centres.


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