Friday, January 10, 2014

Not Sure How I Feel About This One...

California schoolteachers' lawsuit over mandatory union dues moving forward
A federal lawsuit filed by a group of California public school teachers saying mandatory payment of union dues violates their right of free speech is moving forward in the courts..

In essence, in California and 25 other “closed shop” states, the teachers by law must join a union as a condition of employment and pay union dues to keep their jobs.

On the one hand, I have a hard time feeling sorry for these teachers. They knew what they were getting into when they signed up to be teachers in a "closed shop" state. If you want to teach in CA, you have to join a union. Full stop. Do not pass go. Becoming a teacher in CA and then suing because you don't want to be in the union is similar to folks that buy a house next to a train station and complain about the noise. I also can't help but wonder if they're thinking about the $1,000 a year in dues they could be keeping.

On the other hand, there is quite simply no valid reason whatsoever for a white collar gig like a teacher to be unionized. You're college-educated professionals, for crying out loud. There's no accountants union, is there? No Programmers Local No. 105. Unions generally represent tradesmen and other blue collar workers, not white collar professionals. It's a form of double-dipping, really - you want the salary that comes with the white collar job, but the safety and security of a job backed by a union.

All of this is moot, though, with the simple fact that the union requirement was in place when these people accepted the job. If they don't want to be part of the union, they are free to quit and move to a state that does not require them to be part of a union in order to work in that state. They accepted the terms of being a CA teacher when they accepted their first position - now they want to shuck the union dues but continue to reap the benefits. While I may not like unions, this is still BS. If they want the protection brought by union membership, they ought to be paying for it like the rest.

Or are they going to turn down the raises and promotions that the union fights for?

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)


jetfxr69 said...

Or, they want to change the system, and since they can't do it at the ballot-box (it IS CA, after all), they're trying the courts.

I think I read that in WI, after all the fighting to eliminate mandatory union dues for teachers, the union revenues are down like 80%.

Dave H said...

Dad faced a similar situation when he taught in Ohio. Union membership wasn't mandatory, but all teachers paid dues to the union whether they were members or not. Dad didn't like it but he realized that he got the benefit of a union-negotiated contract so it didn't seem quite so unfair.

I'm not a big fan of unions. (The Teamsters and United Mine Workers tended toward violence during strikes where I grew up.) But they do have a place among workers that are in a position to be abused by employers. I'm not so sure that applies to teachers though.

Anonymous said...

Programmers have a union only if they are part of the federal government. It is about as toothless as the UTU (of which my father was a member being a switchman for the B&O RR).

The UTU had no bargaining power because they would declare a strike and the President would order them back to work the same day. There were a lot of abuses of workers for the railroad. And here, the union was actually useful in retention for injured workers and trying to fight the railroad's penchant for cutting corners on the operation of multi-thousand ton trains. (2 man crews including the engineer was a big one.)

Joseph in IL

Sailorcurt said...

The problem is that many unions don't stick to just negotiating salaries and employment terms. Union dues end up being used to support political causes and agendas that many of the union members don't agree with.

That's why it's a first amendment issue. Forcing people by law to financially support political speech in the form of lobbying and/or campaign contributions, that they don't agree with is a violation of their first amendment rights.

I completely agree with the lawsuit and hope it succeeds. If the unions kept their noses where they belonged and stayed out of politics, I'd be much less inclined to be sympathetic.

And, as the son of a school teacher, the father of a school teacher and the extended family member of many school teachers, I can say unequivocally that many teachers do what they do not just to have a job, but because they actually believe they are making a difference in people's lives.

So according to your logic, these people should stop making a difference in people's lives because they should have known that this injustice was going to be happening when they signed up for it?

No, I think in this case, it's better to fight against the injustice than to quit or move somewhere else.

Robert said...

Shouldn't be any job that requires one join a union. Anywhere.

Stingray said...

I'm kind of surprised at given how long it took you to "move somewhere where you could __________" that's one of your fixes for the people who don't want to be part of it. Jetfxr nailed it. For the folks who don't like that it's mandatory, this *is* the best route to a fix. You can't vote it out, moving somewhere that you can ________ isn't always, or even that frequently, viable but I do seem to remember something about petitioning blah blah redress grievances blah blah blah. ;)

Old NFO said...

Unions don't benefit workers in the long run... Especially teachers! Remember the union putting up ads against the teacher's husband that was running for office?

Daniel in Brookline said...

It doesn't seem that outrageous to me, Jay. My guess is that these people like California, like teaching in California, and want to change parts of the system from within. Nothing wrong with that.

California having the reputation that it does, I don't expect the lawsuit to get very far. But you never know. Wisconsin surprised a lot of people a few years back.

Paul, Dammit! said...

Proud to be ex-union. Gave up 4% of my salary every year for a 1.5% annual raise at best? No.

OTOH, you can watch the trade unions like the IBEW in Boston circle the drain. I have several friends that haven't worked in 2+ years. They're all hurting, except, magically, for the union officials, and that says it all.
As for the teachers unions, I'd be happy to see the fed go all Ronnie Reagan on them, barring their giving up partisan politics.

Cargosquid said...

My mother grew up during the Depression. She was a Republican.

She became a teacher in the worst school system in the US...the New Orleans Public school system.

Their union was one of the lamest, most corrupt organizations around.

And she absolutely freaking LOVED walking THROUGH the picket line every day and STOPPING in the middle to tell those people to get back to work teaching the children.

All 5 feet of her. Did it every school day for six weeks.

DARING them to do something.

Glenn B said...

I applaud them and their lawsuit. Anything to get rid of teachers' unions or to reduce their power base (teachers paying into them) is a good thing. There is no reason whatsoever to force anyone to be in a union - it is an absolutely repugnant practice almost as bad as firearms licensing or registration. Those teachers have every right to oppose such leftist practices and hopefully they will overcome them.

All the best,

God, Gals, Guns, Grub said...

Jay... I believe the free speech part comes into play because they're forced to pay into the union who then gives they're money and support to political candidates they my object to... that already played out in Ohio a few years back... and state law was changed... if you're in a school district with
"fair-share" meaning everyone has to pay into the union since the union negotiates for everyone... teachers in Ohio can opt out of the portion of union dues that are used for political purposes by the union... and the OEA and NEA in Ohio have taken a big hit because of it...

Dann in Ohio