Some of the Teacher Unions

During my entire tenure working in traditional public schools, I enjoyed great relations with teacher union officials and dues paying union members. Today, however, it seems that some of these unions have gone completely out-of-bounds. For instance, there was a United Opt Out picket and march outside the US Department of Education this last Spring. Another example, the Chicago Teachers Union whose week + strike was for pay demands so outrageous and with knowledge that the City of Chicago and its Chicago Public Schools cannot possibly afford the salary demands.
Worse are the anti-kid, anti-family, anti-education antics some of these union, such as the CTU continue to espouse and flat-out demand.
I am a supporter of unions, and always have been, but I am rethinking that support with some teacher unions. Some of these folks are flat-out kids haters I believe. It sure does make me proud of some of the NEA and AFT affiliated units I worked with years ago. How did we go from the AFT’s Adam Urbanski’s teachings that all union positions should support and link to teaching and learning to what we see today?

One Comment on “Some of the Teacher Unions

  1. Joey,

    I’ve had great difficulty putting to words how I felt about unions. In my teaching years I was vice president of our NEA affiliated Association (ISTA) and represented my members as the Chair of our bargaining team. That year we received an 8% raise and increased benefits only after we asked our Uniserv-Director to stay home. This man actually climbed up on the table and stomped his feet to my horror and the distaste of the administrators bargaining with us. The membership (most of them) were elated, but some wanted the 30% raise demand that I was told to fight for. This was my first indication that there was a problem. This was 1974-76. I went on to leadership positions in special education and enjoyed good relationships until I hit the South Shore region of Indiana where unions went for the throat. In my last superintendency the teachers took a vote of no confidence for my leadership. Why? Because I told them we could not afford a raise and we needed to make cuts in benefit costs. I further explained that I felt we could save teaching positions. I was not a fan of cutting support positions (e.g. Instructional Assistants, etc) as a measure to save money unless this was necessary. Hoping to set the model, I refused 2 years of raises and made cuts in health costs for all administrators, but I sustained the cuts first. In addition to this, I encouraged the Board to let go of the Health Insurance plans that we could not afford. I was walked out one day in May of 2008 and within a few weeks the Board released 23 teachers and many support staff in order to give the teachers the 3% raise they demanded. I found that the Association President and the Uniserv-Director lied to the teachers to get them to vote no confidence and they were all told that because of excessive salary demands and benefits I brought the system to its back, This was all untrue and I was reminded of one of Saul Alinski’s “rules,” The end justifies the means. This is what teacher unions have become to me.

    Indiana has now cut what can be bargained and we can enjoy some time where the funds can go directly to the kids.

    I must say, what you said resonated with me and I must say that not all unions and associations are anti-child, but northwest Indiana is highly influenced by what they called “Chicago’s teachers plight.” Many went up there to join the protest crowds in Daley Square.

    Anyway, I am going to reflect on this and see where I am today. Your blog, I believe may soften my past attitudes.

    Thank you.

    Mike Livovich

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