“We have teachers in our name, but children and their families in mind,” proclaims a United Federation of Teachers’ commercial. A teachers’ union should have teachers in mind, writes NYC Educator. No buts about it.
. . . when your girlfriend or boyfriend says, “I really love you but…” you know it’s time to seek a new one. When your boss says, “You’re doing a great job but…” maybe it’s good news for someone in India.
So after “We have teachers in our name,” there should be no but. We are a labor union. We should have teachers in our minds. In fact, that is our purpose. To buy into the propaganda that it’s somehow evil to act in our self-interest is to lose the war without firing a shot.
. . . The message that we don’t care one way or the other about teachers is insidious, counter-productive, and a massive abuse of the dues for which we work so hard.
Three Cheers for Self-Interest, responds EIA Intercepts. Unions receive dues to protect their members’ interests. That includes trying to keep members employed.
Teachers have their self-interest, and many times it coincides with the self-interest of students and parents. Teachers’ unions have their self-interest as well, but like to pretend they don’t, which is why the UFT ad mentions class size, supplies and quality teachers, but fails to mention bumping, release time, exclusive representation, and summary dismissal for teachers who fail to pay their union dues – all things that have nothing to do with the interests of students and parents.
So why pretend otherwise?
A hypothetical union that advertises itself as acting in the interests of itself and its members creates an equivalency between itself and other self-interested parties. Like parents. And taxpayers. And, dare I say it, management.
In my newspaper years, my union, the Newspaper Guild, talked about freedom of the press and freedom of information, but its function was to negotiate better pay, benefits and working conditions for members — and to protect members from being fired, even if they weren’t very good.