Saturday, September 1, 2007


I also started my union duties having attended my first official executive board meeting. Wow! I have quite a bit to learn! I think I doubled my knowledge in that first meeting alone.

Yesterday I approached one of the new hires to inquire why he did not join the local union. Turns out he harbors some hard feelings against the union, but I think they are misplaced. We chatted and he decided to join the union, and he attributes his membership to our rapport. That feels good to know, but I'm learning that hard feelings between some of the teachers and the union are somewhat prevalent.

Now I have a lot of work to do to help smooth out some of these feelings. I don't feel that I need to become a recruitment officer, but I do want to maintain a level of respect and to foster more positivity between the high school staff and the union. After all, I want to represent the staff's interests while supporting and defending the contract.


Mrs. Chili said...

Forgive me for coming off like a new fawn in the forest, but I have no idea what unions are all about. I work as an adjunct in a small community college, so unions are not part of my experience. I've never worked in a public school, either - beyond my internship experience - and lessons about unions were not part of my training, either during college or during the internship. Would you consent to a quick lesson?

If you don't want to post that lesson here, email me at Thanks!

DrPezz said...

In my view the union should be a body representing the teachers and supporting the contract. When issues arise regarding workload, working conditions, resources,
evaluations, and oversight, then the union should ensure the contract is followed and the teacher is not punished or terminated for unjust reasons.

To be honest, the issues in my school surround two individuals: the Boss Lady and one retired teacher. The retired teacher would speak up immediately if she felt a decision would negatively affect the staff (as written in the contract--shortening prep time, meetings at awkward times, etc.). The Boss Lady, who is quite defensive in nature, would take this as an attack, and the two would argue in front of the staff. This created sides and people took them, effectively dividing the staff and making the union appear as a contentious group.

I believe that if there is a concern, I will voice it once and then discuss the matter in private.

Truly, I see our union as a positive affiliation. We actually have great relationships built with the district office and negotiate contracts throughout the year rather than at a bargaining table at the end of the contract.

In my limited experience in this district, I see the primary difficulties being one-sided. The administrators do not meet deadlines or follow the due process as outlined in the agreed upon contract and the union protects the agreements outlined in the contract, which people perceive as union interference when someone's employment may be terminated.

Honestly, the big secret is that the administrators could have quite a bit of influence helping train teachers to be better or to eliminate those deemed ineffective if they would simply follow the contract.

My first meeting provided lots of background on issues and my first look at the issues arising throughout the district. We have a few hot spots to watch, but I still feel positive that things will work out and that I can help the union's image at the high school. I have a very different approach than some of our previous representatives, so I'm thinking this will help.

Is this what you wanted to know?

Mrs. Chili said...

You totally rock! Thank you for the lesson (and thanks, in advance, for answering any subsequent questions I'm sure to come up with)!

I tried to send you an email thank you note, but it keeps coming back to me with "permanent fatal errors" (sounds bad, doesn't it?!). Could you email me again and I'll try replying again, please? It's bugging me that I can't get back to you via your email to me.