Why Do Teachers Need a Union?

Last week I talked about the NEA teacher’s union (see The Politics of the NEA and Questions about the NEA).  I broached the subject — which turned into a “two-parter” — with much reluctance and foreboding.

My purpose in blogging is to entertain and encourage but not to enrage or offend.  Last week’s topic made that a difficult line to walk.  Now, having shared my musings as gently as I could, I want to clarify my perspectives surrounding these issues.

First, Unions:  In general, I see unions as an important (but sadly) necessary means by which “to protect the rights of exploited workers who have no voice.”  At one time there was an incredible need for this, which has dramatically lessened, largely because of the success of unions — or even due to the mere threat of a workforce unionizing.  However, in many cases the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, with some unions wielding more power than is warranted and representing some groups who don’t really need union oversight.  (These would be workers who are neither exploited nor voiceless.)  If businesses behaved rightly, there wouldn’t need to be unions.  I wish both those statements could be reality, but that would be unrealistically Utopian.  So, we are stuck with some businesses that are greedily exploiting workers and some unions that push back with too much power.

Next, Teachers:  Although I’ve been instructed by a few educators who shouldn’t have been teaching, I have the utmost respect for the vast majority of the teachers and professors I have had over the years.  Plus there are more than a few who I give the highest praise in helping to shape me into who I am today.  I recently wrote an article about some of these great educators who influenced me.

Teachers literally have the most important job in the world — training the next generation — and need to be compensated accordingly.  I just don’t see why they need a union — or why unions are involved in political issues that transcend their purpose and mission.

As implied by this blog’s title, I still have “more” to talk about, which I will address tomorrow…

What do you think? Please leave a comment!