For my first few years of public-school teaching, I didn’t join the teachers’ union. There was only one reason: how much it cost, almost $50, a sum which hasn’t changed much over the years. As a beginning teacher, I thought that was far too much to fork over for something I considered to be pretty much useless to me.
Then, more recently, for a few years, I joined a lower-cost teacher’s union, thinking that at least I’d like to be covered with insurance if there were some issue with a student. This year, though, I cancelled the lower-cost option and OK, I joined the local union.
Why did I do it?
Many (most?) of the teachers in my district feel a great deal of distrust and fear. We just know that the district can pull the rug out from beneath us, anytime. We’re not sure what that would entail but we certainly feel it. We have no confidence that anyone in the district would stand up for us if there were a conflict, especially a legal one.
I would add one caveat: the principal in my morning assignment (I teach in two schools) would stand up for me. He’s done it before and I feel confident he’d do it again.
The same does NOT go for the upper levels of administration in the district. Thus I am throwing almost $50 a month into the huge teacher-union pot. I know now that I can have a union representative with me during any questioning or conflict and I know I’m covered should there be a legal problem.
It’s sad that we feel compelled to do this. In a litigious society, however, where teachers are considered the root of all evil, it’s become a necessity.