Why Do Teachers Join The Union?

from Forbes

The past year has brought a renewed focus on teachers unions. This was the year that saw a wave of state-wide teacher strikes, a wave that continues right now in Washington state. It was also the year that brought the Janus decision which threatens to extend the effects of Right-To-Work to states that have not yet seen that law come to their state capital. And conservative groups have been poised to launch a campaign of encouraging teachers and other public employees to quit their unions, even as unions have hunkered down to work at holding onto members.

It seems like a good time to ask the question, why do teachers join the union at all?

For some people, the teachers union is a nest of crazy leftists, people who don’t care about students but are just in the education biz for the money. But union members represent a far more complex group. Remember, one in five AFT members and one in three NEA members voted for Donald Trump. Union leadership itself, when trying to exercise some political clout, has reason to promote the idea that the unions are a monolithic whole, a unified army ready to be unleashed. But that’s not true for all issues. Many of the same criticisms lobbed from outside the unions are also leveled from inside it.

So what unifies teacher union members? It’s this statement:

More here.

Posted in Education and tagged , , , .


  1. The fight for educator’s rights is one of the fastest growing issues in America today, and most people are aware of it due to the volume of the population that are tied to the subject in one way or another. For example, relatives of educators or students, students and educators themselves, and even those on the other side of the fight, politicians. This means that most people have an opinion on this topic. The two main arguments that arise are either for or against teachers unions. Those who are for them believe that unions help teachers who may be underpaid, have a lack of benefits, or are facing unfair scrutiny from their school. Those who are against feel that unions are a conglomerate of people who are selfishly seeking benefit for themselves with no regard for their work, or others. It is unfair to say that either argument is truly right, because there have been instances where teacher’s rights were violated due to a lack of a union and there has been instances of teachers who are in fact in unions abusing their privileges and not caring enough about their students.
    The teacher strikes across the nation show that change is inevitable. The two most likely outcomes of the strikes are as follows; Either the teachers on strike will have their demands met and the situation will be resolved in that particular area, or the administration will act like any other business would and fire the teachers, and find people who will work for their conditions. The problem with both of these is that they both will result in worse issues further down the line. If there is no fair, and equal way to solve this problem for the whole nation, the dispute will never end. It is true that education is a state-by-state issue. But if there were a way for all 50 states to agree on a fair policy for both educators and administration, we would finally have salvation. I understand that is a very tall order especially for the United States Government, but it may be the only viable long-term solution.
    In my opinion, I feel that the whole issue is in fact from a lack of uniformity throughout the nation in regards to teacher’s wages, benefits, etc. It is completely unfair for a teacher in Camden, New Jersey to make a small percentage of what a teacher in Franklin Lakes earns for basically the same job just because of the difference in taxes. It is a fact that poorer areas pay fewer taxes, therefore, have less money for education in that area. The teacher’s union may solve the dispute on a state wide level, assuming that nobody abuses or violates rights, but it may not resolve the problem for the whole nation. For example, if the New York Teacher’s Union grants a month of paid vacation and extensive health benefits, while the union in Pennsylvania receives less than half of these benefits, there would be an outcry of jealousy. Teachers would opt to move to a state with a more ideal union, and if this were done in large masses, would result in a surplus of educators in some states, and a shortage in others. I feel that a national standard for educators is necessary because the amount of care and effort we put into them, is the amount they will hopefully return to their students. School has become a business in the United States and I cannot stand it. People have a right to an education so that they can have the tools to thrive and succeed. If we strip them of that, or require them to pay ridiculous amounts in taxes or tuition, the result will be wealthier educators, and more impoverished, uneducated people.

  2. This article pertains to something that is essential to the future of our society. Teachers have one of the biggest impacts on our society as a whole because they are the role models and educators that the youth in our society will come across. Children spend more time in school during a week of a school year than they do at home which means that their teachers are the adult role models that they come across most often. In order for our children, who will make the future of our society, they need to have good teachers who are passionate about what they are doing and love their job. However, society undervalues teachers to the point that they are becoming mistreated at an alarming rate by public officials and school boards. If this trend continues I fear for the development of the youth who will be the future leaders of our society.
    I completely agree with the premise that the article presents that states that teachers unions are necessary and that teachers generally join it because they simply want to teach. If we as a society keep taking away teachers’ pensions, tenures, money from their salaries, and money from their classroom supply budgets a lot of people will not only not want to become teachers, but also take the spirit away from the teachers that are already in place. The attitude that teachers have surrounding their jobs is important to them teaching our youth in the right way and forming them into meaning contributors of our society at large. Without teachers unions public officials and school boards would be free to take whatever they wanted from teachers. If one teacher decided to stand up against their public officials and school board they people wouldn’t care and change would not occur. The only power that teachers have to fight against the trend in today’s society is manifested in them working together for the common goal of protecting their rights as teachers. The only way that they can do that is by having teachers unions that they can join in order to use that power.
    Teachers unions generally only protest when things that are essential to them continuing to teach are threatened like their salaries, pensions, and classroom budgets. We need more teachers, teachers that want to teach, and we need them to have good attitudes about teaching. Teachers need to be valued and treated respectfully in our society in order to grow our society in the right way and create a better future for not only ourselves but for the society we will eventually leave behind.

  3. After this previous year, many more professors and teachers started to go on strike due to the unfair contracts given to them. Teachers are paid less than what they feel should be an adequate pay. Teachers do have an easy job in the physical sense, where they enter into a safe environment and only technically work from 8-3pm. The reality is that they do not actually work in a safe environment. The past year has brought a lot of technological advancements to schools across the nation and therefore mandates teachers to stay for night classes in order to learn how to use and operate these new devices. These extra hours of learning, are not paid and on top of that, this time used to learn the device takes time away from them to grade papers and prepare for the next day class. Even though some might argue that every work requires you to learn and work more after work, teachers still have the bad end of the stick in this country. Teachers in the past year have to enter work everyday with the thought that maybe today will be the day that a student rebels and decides to shoot up the school in which they reside. This constant fear puts teachers in a category of an unsafe environment. These are the reasons as to why teacher and professors try to form unions that demand strikes in order to get better pay and security. Teachers do not form strikes for fun, they form strikes to protect themselves. This past year should be evidence enough in the spike of unions and strikes occurring. This spike is correlated to the tough pressures applied to teachers to give the best education possible and hope that they do not become a statistics in the news with the report of the next school shooting.

  4. To be quite honest, reading this article made me feel very sad. It made me feel a great sense of empathy for all of the teachers that I’ve had in my life, because I know that most (if not, all) work their tails off to ensure that the young adults in their classrooms receive a proper education, and some go to remarkable lengths to do so. For whatever reason though, the mainstream media makes it seem like teachers are a bunch of whiners; that they have it way too easy by having the weekends and summers off, by proclaiming that their job either “isn’t real” or “is too easy”, and for that reason, I do not blame teachers one damn bit for joining unions.

    Teacher’s joining unions make total and complete sense to me, and even though people make it seem like they only join unions just because they want to make more money, I personally don’t think it is true at all, I think the teachers just want to be provided with the resources to help give our future generations the correct education and curriculum, and to try and mold them into being successful, regardless of what field they are in.

    I went to Plainfield East High School, and I had an economics/psychology teacher who did everything and anything for the school and her students; she organized a heavy amount of after school activities, ran the Student Council we had established there, organized senior trips, all whlist teaching 3 economics classes (one being AP) and 2 psychology classes. Due to security purposes I won’t say her name, but she was working so hard to get so much done for the school.

    Later on, for whatever reason, one of my friends somehow got a document from the school detailing the salaries that these teachers made, and once I looked up the teacher that I previously mentioned above and found out that she was barely making ends meet for all of her work, I completely understood why my teachers were going to hold a strike in the October of 2017, it all made sense; with a teacher who is investing so much of her own money, time, and effort into the school and having the school give her a proverbial middle finger, it broke my heart. It even fractured it into more pieces knowing that she’s not the only teacher in the school who felt the same exact away about her job and her career.

    I’m not saying that all teachers should just make more money or that all teacher’s unions are all about money, but if there’s a certain problem to solve first in the education system at the moment, it would be paying these teachers what they deserve so that way they don’t ever have to second guess why they chose to teach. As the article says, ultimately teachers “join the union because they want to teach”, and if a higher salary can alleviate it ever so slightly, then so be it.

  5. Teaching is an extremely important job that really does not get enough credit. Teachers have to put so much work into what they do and give so much of their time to their students, and the fact that this profession is so under appreciated in America is very sad. Teachers spend all day in the classroom teaching, and then a lot of their nights at home grading paper, writing lesson plans, and filling out paperwork; and lets not forget that all of these hours at home are unpaid. It is a fact that many teachers join the union, and it is often misrepresented as to why so many teachers are joining. It is often represented as a negative thing for teachers to be unionizing, and this should not be the case, as there are benefits. It is important for teachers to be able to be a part of a union and to have support of other teachers, especially in an industry that is constantly changing everything from wages, to curriculums and standards, etc. As the article states, teachers “[have] great responsibility and very little power”, and that is why it is so important for them to be able to stand together when they have little to no control over the changes being made in their profession. When you look at teaching as a profession, teachers are not really spending their days with their other colleagues as people working in an office setting might, as all teachers are in their own classrooms for the majority of the day with their students. Looking at this fact, it can be seen that teachers are kind of “on their own” during the day and can maybe be lacking that sense of comradery with other colleagues, which is why it is even more important that the teaching profession has a union and can be that support that teachers may not always have, when it comes to figuring out this ever changing profession. America needs more teachers, and that is why it is important to take care of the ones we already have and the ones that love what they do. Making things more difficult than they already are for teachers is not going to encourage young people to become teachers, and that is what we need. So that is why it is important to let the teachers union do its thing because we do not want to diminish the love that teachers have for teaching because we make it so difficult for them to be able to be supported.

  6. Teachers, along with a child’s parents, are some of the most important people a developing child will come in contact with in his/her life. This child learns the fundamental building blocks of his/her education from his/her teachers. These subjects range from math to English, from history to science and are all important in forming the future members of society. Teachers must be well equipped in every area of their profession in order to perform well. These are the individuals that are forming the minds of children and they can’t be struggling to conduct their jobs well. Teachers need to be paid well, have access to plenty of school supplies, and other school resources. Teachers also need to have the option of being part of a union. A union is able to collectively negotiate better pay, benefits, and working conditions for their members. Union employees are more difficult to be terminated from employment due to the union providing defense via a shop steward or legal counsel. Teachers that decide to not be a part of the union are responsible for themselves when working. They must negotiate their own contracts, be more careful about making mistakes, and ensure that their students are achieving high test scores. There is more stress involved with going out on your own.
    Every teacher is different in the walk of life they find themselves in. Some teachers may have a family or hope to have a family and thus want to have job security, better pay, and benefits in order to take care of their loved ones. Others might find themselves to be single and have more control of their career and thus might choose to not be a part of the union. Every individual is different and has to take into consideration the circumstances they find themselves in to decide if they want to be a part of a union or not. Fiscally, history has shown that teachers should unionize because it benefits them greatly while also allowing them to perform their job well. The children will benefit immensely from teachers that have peace of mind about their job and income. It is understood that teachers don’t teach because of the pay, if that was the case then teachers in many states would have quit long ago. The concept of the union is not to see how much money the employer can give their members but rather to negotiate a fair and moderate deal that benefits both the employer and employee. Unionization will allow teachers to do their jobs well and allow children to receive the proper education and training in order to make it out in the world.

  7. Joining a union in today seems like sort of a gamble. The strange thing is that unions were made for the exact opposite purpose. We see people joining unions and paying dues in order to ensure job safety, but it’s also clear that in some cases, people are laid off from their jobs and don’t see much of the union in their corner. The point of this article is to provide us with a background with why teachers are joining labor unions. The largest reason teachers are joining unions is because that they genuinely have a desire to teach. The job market for teachers isn’t the strongest because of how pigeonholed the education department seems to be. Teachers can only get jobs as teachers and those who pursue a degree in education are limiting themselves to only being able to educate. This is why teachers unions are so important. People become teachers because they want to teach, rather than make a large amount of money. This job market is extremely saturated and because of this we will never have a shortage of teachers. Since this is true, the market for finding a job is very competitive. Unions are made to provide work to those who join, it is a self sustaining company but some unions aren’t doing well at all. While some labor unions may seem like a disruption to the regular overarching job market , teachers unions are set forth to not only protect the teachers jobs, but provide quality teaching. It seems that it is in the best interest of the teachers to continue to unionize. Regardless of teachers joining unions, students will continue to see improvement in the educational system because their are so many teachers out there that genuinely want to do their jobs.

  8. They were created out of the labor movement because workers were being mistreated. Long hours, hazardous working conditions, little pay, ect. US steel worker strikes is one of the more well known examples. They fight for greater rights. Benefits, higher pay and so on. They work by having members donate a portion of their paychecks (aka union dues) which helps to fund the union. This money goes towards things like better safety equipment that employers won’t is can’t purchase, as well as political campaign funding and a myriad of other things. Union members vote during meetings to determine weather it not to go on strike or to make new requests (demands) from their employers, such as higher pay or better benefits. Nearly everything is put up to a vote. In a nutshell, unions give employees power they wouldn’t otherwise have compared to nonunion employees. Whereas nonunion employees are simply stuck with whatever they’re stuck with and have little voice to challenge their employer with outside of written law. some unions will also pay wages to workers who are on strike, allowing employees to strike longer before they are forced back to work my money shortages. And this is mainly why teachers elect to join unions. A sense of being in a group often gives confidence to those who don’t.

  9. “They join the union because they want to teach.” This statement is what I believe is the most important quote in the article. Teachers surely have not entered into this profession for the money, as I do not believe teachers are fairly compensated at all. I have met many teachers that have devoted almost their entire lives into their work. This may be because they love teaching, but it also may be because they have to make ends meet by being coaches and advising clubs. I had a conversation in high school with a teacher about why the brightest students in America do not become teachers. It is a very black and white issue; teachers are not paid enough nor are they fairly appreciated in our current culture. The fact of the matter is, educating our youth is hard and this article touches on it.
    Teachers need to be protected, that is the whole point of the union. They are much more at risk for being fired than in other professions. Teaching is also a much more personal field where investment of time goes outside the typical emotional and time-based investment. Most teachers you meet are invested in their students both inside and outside the classroom. Teachers are in the business of shaping young minds, a task that isn’t easy, but many people discount it as such a menial task. That is what makes teaching very unique and what makes a need for a union. “Every classroom teacher has great responsibility and very little power,” is exactly what is the sum of the article.
    The need for the union is so that teachers do not get walked all over. In more recent years, we have taken away tenure and other benefits that teachers were getting in job security and it is imperative that we continue to protect these people so that they can keep teaching our youth to the best of their ability. Next to parents, teachers are some of the most influential adults in the lives of our young people and we need to remember this when talking about their salary and job protection.

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