Thursday, February 26, 2009

Teacher Unions

I really do not know much about teacher unions. I really haven't been paying attention. But, my friend and fellow staff member Eric Voelker had an editorial published in the Des Moines Register today titled Unions Should Offer Levels of Membership. (The full text is below.)

My experience with the teacher's union began and ended my first year of teaching shop. Two representatives came down to my shop. It was strange to see these two teachers walk into the shop. They explained membership dues and benefits. As far as dues were concerned I was taking home $900 a month and any dues over $1 were too much. (Yes, my contract pay has gone up since that time and unions will take the credit. But, I also have a part time job or two.) The big benefit they would provide would be in the case where I was fired. The teachers union would be able to rally around me and fight for my job if the administration ever fired me. At that point, being an arrogant young teacher/coach (unlike today, now I am old), I laughed and said, "I do not understand why I would want to work for somebody who wanted to fire me? I figure I would quit before they had a chance to fire me." That ended that attempt to proselytize me and I really haven't been approached since.

On a more intelligent level here is what Eric Voelker wrote to the editor of the Des Moines Register concerning a movement for mandatory union membership in the state of Iowa:

The Iowa State Education Association is lobbying the Legislature to pass a fair-share law. If passed, this law would unfairly mandate employees to belong to a collective group in an effort to share the cost of collective bargaining/contract management.

Having been part of the Des Moines Professional Firefighters Association and the National Education Association/Iowa State Education Association, I can say that it was indeed an exercise of my American freedom to choose to belong to these groups. I belonged to the Des Moines Professional Firefighters Association the entire time I was employed.

However, as time progressed, I dropped my association with the NEA/ISEA. I always supported the local initiatives and contract negotiations the ISEA local provided. What grew to be a deal breaker was that a good deal of my dues went to support the NEA and its liberal political agenda. Before I dropped I inquired about alternative forms or levels of association. It offered no options. There was no choice.

Rather than lobby for a law that grows government's regulation of this issue, the ISEA should simply offer choices in levels of membership.

- Eric Voelker, Dallas Center

Mr. Wiemers

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