Friday, June 3, 2011

WI teachers: Paying union dues IS important

I haven't posted in a week because, due to some family sadness, I couldn't feel the passion.  Our 30 year old niece went into hospice care, and quite frankly, I couldn't see the importance of my little blog compared to that immense sadness.

Today, I got an e-mail from a first-year teacher who logically wondered why teachers should continue paying union dues despite unions having been emasculated by Walker's collective bargaining "law." Without minimizing our family tragedy, I realized that other things do matter, and, if nothing else, I want teachers reading this to understand that continuing to pay union dues is unbelievably vital for the sake of our students, our profession, and our state.

Here's my reply:
I can understand the saving money aspect, especially with all the extra money the Republican legislature is making public workers pay (that no one else has to).  Recouping that $800 is awful tempting.

As a matter of fact, even in our district, there are veteran teachers who are questioning the necessity of paying union dues if the union has such little power.

I guess the biggest thing for me is that the money goes towards lobbying and people who make sure our voice gets heard--both for teachers and for education.  If union payments stop, there's a very good chance the pendulum would never swing back towards us (or even towards the middle) regarding salaries and procedures that have been negotiated fairly between teachers and elected officials over the years, but would very likely continue to swing towards more payments from, and fewer rights for, us.

And it's not just about us and our salaries/benefits, it's about providing a voice for what's in the best interest of student education--Walker has proposed almost a billion dollars in cuts to education, and has increased programs to diminish the institution of public schools (including increasing the voucher system, no limits on the amount of kids in computer "virtual" schools, not using the same tests every public school and teacher will be judged on, not even requiring teacher certification in charter schools).  Without a continued and unified presence, education--and the teaching profession--will be severely limited in the future.  To be honest, in my opinion, salaries and benefits will continue to slide, because they will be allowed to slide--as will things such as "specials" and extra-curriculars--and our kids (not just us) will be in a lot worse shape because of it. So, even if unions are severely crippled because of Walker's plan, again, in my opinion, it really is important to keep the unions intact, and that pro-education voices continue to be heard in Madison and in the nation (and in our community).

But my thoughts are still elsewhere.


  1. Teacher:

    I'm a veteran teacher and I couldn't disagree with you more.

    I no nobody is supposed to talk about this but there are some real questions which should be answered first:

    Where was my union, two years ago, when budget problems were beginning to arise, advising me and my local to proceed responsibly?

    Where was my union when it became clear that WEA Trust was charging far more for equivelant coverage and thus taking money out of the classroom--money needed for textbooks, etc...

    Where was my WEAC to explain the special relationship between WEATrust and WEAC?

    Why should I pay dues when more than 90% of money leaves my LEA when I need my voice heard on a local level?

    What cuts and sacrifices are administrative and excutive leaders of WEAC, NEA, and various UNISERVS making to share my suffering here? Yeah, what kind of pay cut is Mary Bell taking?

    Why does WEAC persist in empty "its all about the kids" rhetoric which nobody believes? Is this the crap the lobbists try to sell? I'm a PROFESSIONAL TEACHER and deserve to be paid as such. Nobody expects some doctor to engage in this "its all about the patients" crap, why is WEAC?

    These are a few of the concerns I have. WEAC wants to remain the same, but times have changed. You can't lead from behind, but I should pay $800 for more vague maybe's?


  2. Patrick, I understand your concerns, and I am sure you are not alone. However, again, without a unified voice, more detrimental changes in education--things that will affect our profession and things that really will affect kids and their learning--will be assured.