Why This Teacher Supports Unions (A Thought)

Jose Vilson Jose 11 Comments

I can tell you of the petty nonsense I’ve faced as a teacher, the plethora of veteran teachers they tried to get rid of because they’re too old, the times I didn’t think my job was safe because I had an opinion that’s far from mainstream, the people I’ve met who were harassed on a daily basis for being too ____, and the places we try and hide our system’s dirt in backrooms and rugs.

Instead, I’ll tell you of a principle theory. Union means unity.

When two or more people within a given circle feel a common struggle against an oppression, they must amalgamate against that oppression. In our country and so many others, corporatists and Reaganites obfuscate these unions and re-brand efforts from public (and private) service workers to the American public as unpatriotic and greedy. In the corporate sector, an employee can negotiate their own terms, rarely have to take work (and the emotional baggage) with them home, and have more autonomy in the pace and structure of their jobs.

Not so with teaching.

Yes, our unions may need tweaking to keep up with the current demands of teachers, students, and environments. But I’ll be damned if one of the nation’s highest callings continue to get pushback for the most basic of working conditions. This isn’t a job for some of us, it’s a career.

You should support us. Here’s why.

Jose, who stands with you …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 11

  1. Kandeezie

    Absolutely! I’ve never seen so many people defend corporate golden parachutes while trying to destroy small benefits teachers receive. It’s as if we’ve been socialized to believe wealthy people work harder and thus deserve financial and social protection while the middle class are just lucky to have jobs, meaning that if they have benefits protecting their financial and social well-being, it’s unjust. Crabs in a bucket X 10. Something went very wrong and we need to fix it. Education as a site of liberation, not indoctrination!

  2. Bill Ivey

    Kandeezie, I have heard of people expressing the viewpoint that salary is a reflection of your intelligence. By that logic (which is by no means mine), teachers are simply stupider than high-salaried CEO’s, and therefore are getting exactly what we deserve. How messed up is that?

  3. msladydeborah

    I worked on a Head Start staff that unionized. It was one of the best moves we ever made. People think it is always about $$$. However, we needed to have some for real boundaries set between us and the management. Our contract helped to keep a lot of the nonsense at bay.

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  5. Team Afro

    Without unions to protect teachers the government will run roughshod, eliminating jobs, and taking away benefits. When qualified teachers get forced to look at better paying alternatives they will take them, which will further reduce the pool of talented teachers. When teaching quality falls, public education falls and THEN the corporate elitists will have what they want: privatization of schools where only the richy-rich kids can afford a good education, segregation on all levels/criteria is legal, and discrimination is at their discretion.

    Teachers, your fight is hard but keep fighting. Education should be for everyone and you deserve the right to organize and to be compensated fairly.

  6. Mike

    I found this to be very interesting because the teachers union has such a large impact on my future and its ability to stay unified and strong will altimatly dictate my future salary, retirement, and other benifits. It is motivating and encouraging to know that fellow teachers have this same realization and are willing to vocalize this issue. -Pre-service teacher

  7. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Thanks to everyone who commented. You pretty much captured exactly what I was thinking. Education, kandeezie, should be a site for liberation. Too bad it’s not. Mike, good luck with your career. Hopefully, by the time you’re ready to go full service, you’re not robbed of the precious ability to collectively bargain.

  8. Calandra

    I agree that teachers should have unions, because I know that teachers get tons of flack for a lot of things. Most of my friends are teachers and tell me about things that go on in their districts. Your post describes perfectly why teachers unions should not be eliminated. Great Post.

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