Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Teachers Like Us Support Unions

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.


Snippety Gibbet said...

I teach in Virginia as well. I belong to a union because they have the voice that I will never have. Their's may not carry as much sway as those in states who have collective bargaining, but I believe they are heard. They speak for me with a power I cannot speak myself.

Sarah said...

I agree 100% - it sounds like Texas has the same kind of union as VA. When I taught in California, I was part of a VERY POWERFUL union. It was great!

emet said...

I think this is a great post Jen! Unions can absolutely give voice to people and have often been a force of great good. I think the key, is that you are “happy” to give your money. Giving people this choice is a big issue for me. In many states, teachers do not have this ability; even if you don't join, you are forced to pay the dues. If most teachers agree that the dues are worth the benefits, unions do not need to force people to contribute, they will contribute becasue it is a good deal. Unfortunately, in many of the states that have “strong” unions, teachers do not have the ability to make the choice that you have made. In these states, teachers are forced to pay whether they agree with the union or not.

Jenny said...

Emet, Forcing people to do anything is problematic. I've never worked in a state that required union membership so it is hard for me to understand. However, I've also never worked in a state where I had collective bargaining rights and that seems important as well. I can choose to join the union or not but I should also be able to choose to band together with others to fight for what the kids need or teachers deserve.

(I can't wait for you guys to get back here - there are so many conversations waiting to be had! Plus, we just miss you all.)

Deb Frazier said...

Couldn't agree more!