Monday, March 21, 2011

edusolidarity from the other side ... the side without unions.

[Note: This post is not your typical EDUSolidarity Post. This post may anger some people. But, this is my view, from the other side. From a state without unions.]

There is a big band of teachers coming together today in support of each other and unions. They have a facebook page, a website and have each made a commitment to write a blog post on Tuesday March 22nd in support of teachers and unions. I really do commend teachers for coming together and supporting each other and the future of our students. I think it's fantastic.

But ... I can't write a blog post on why I support my union ... because I don't have one. I live in North Carolina and we don't have unions. I don't know what it's like to have a union support me and back me up. I don't know what it's like to do my job for beaucoups of money. I don't know what it's like to have a group stand up and fight for my rights while on the job. I don't know what it's like when piles of work gets loaded on me and people stand up against that.

It must be nice.

I wish I could sit here and write a post on how I feel bad that everyone's collective bargaining rights are being stripped. But, I can't. However, part of me does feel bad. I feel bad that you are losing what you are used to. I feel bad that you may take a pay cut. I feel bad that things are changing so much so that you may have to find another job. I feel bad that your benefits may change.

But, I don't have a union. I am not used to all the pros of them. We are still on a salary schedule, we still have pretty good benefits. I still teach the same things you teach. We all still have the same common goals.

Are my benefits probably changing for next year? Yep. Has my salary been frozen for three years (and probably again next year for a fourth year)? Yep. Would I rather have those tiny changes than the HUGE GIANT change of a JOB LOSS? Absolutely.

Am I strumming my little tiny violin so you feel bad for me? Absolutely NOT. I've made it and I'm still standing on the other side. My meager salary? I make do.

I hope everyone realizes that there are some places that have NO UNIONS and we are doing just fine. Could things be better? Yes. But, are they okay the way they are? Yes.

Do I think the sly moves of Wisconsin government is wrong? Absolutely. Is money a problem this day in age? Yes. Do we need to find a way to balance our state and federal budgets? Yes. Do I think that your collective bargaining rights should be changed? Well, maybe. Most of you probably get paid more than double than I do. Do I wish my meager salary on any of you? Absolutely not. Am I doing OK with that salary? Absolutely. Is the cost of living down here different? Absolutely.

I am really sorry for all that is happening to everyone, but I hope that everyone realizes that it's not the end of the world. If they move to pay by performance (which, I won't even get into those pros and cons of that here and now), I bet some of you will end up getting paid more than what you currently make because you are all amazing teachers.

I lost a LOT of respect for those Wisconsin teachers who walked out of their schools and walked out on their students to protest. I thought we were here for the kids. I thought you took your job to teach our youth. How could you walk out on them over benefits and money? You left them high and dry for a while. That's not fair. What did those parents tell those kids? "Oh, sorry honey, you can't go to school today because your teacher is protesting for more money and better benefits." Are you kidding me? No teacher chooses this job for the money and if you did, then you shouldn't be in the classroom anyways. Get back in the classroom and TEACH. It's your job.

I know many of you feel your rights are being stripped and I am very sorry for that. I am sorry that some of you will have to change jobs because of this. I am sorry that you are upset over this.

I am sure there is more to the story, but this is what I know. A life without a union.

Just know that good 'ole NC is doing alright without unions and we always have done alright.

We are here for the kids, right?


  1. Just because I love teaching, and care about my kids, it doesn't follow that a decent salary and benefits aren't important too. Teachers and nurses always get screwed precisely because teachers are too loyal to their kids. But if those Wisconsin kids didn't learn for a few weeks, it's not the fault of the teachers: it's the fault of the politicians who necessitated such a move on the part of the teachers. And those teachers did some good fighting. More of that around the world, and maybe teaching would actually become the kind of profession that attracts talent and provides the resources to do a decent job.

    You seem to be in a good school, with a good administration. But what if you weren't? A union, if it was strong, would be a great help for you then.

  2. I happen to live in a district where the teachers rode on a bus or drove 5 hours to Madison to try an meet with our representatives, and yes, to show their support for all teachers. Their doing so had nothing to do with the loss of collective bargaining and everything to do with the massive cuts to education. Our small district (about 1100 students prek-12) lost just over $500,000 in funding/revenue due to the cuts. This was a stand for education...not a stand for unions.