This post is written as a part of today's Edusolidarity.
I am a member of a union. This has little meaning in the state of Virginia. We do not have the right to collectively bargain and we can not strike. But I don't think that is all a union does.
I joined the union as a new teacher for the insurance. It made me feel better to know that someone would have my back if there was a problem. I have never had such a problem. I don't expect to. I still like knowing the insurance is there. No doctor would practice without malpractice insurance. Doctors don't intend to need malpractice insurance, but they are human and not everything is under their control. I am human. I can't control everything.
But the union means a lot more to me. There are cheaper options for that insurance.
Individuals have so little power in our society. Money speaks and money makes things happen. Most individuals don't have the money to have that kind of power. The union is my way to some of that power. I am happy to give them some money, to join with others, to speak up for what we believe.
Teachers' voices need to be heard. We are the experts. I see the union as one, very powerful way for our voices to be heard.