Friday, April 25, 2008

Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism

Yesterday I booked my flight to attend this year's Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism conference, held in Washington, DC this June. I'm pleased to go for the second year in a row as CTEN's representative at this conference.

Pay close attention to the title. The conference isn't anti-union, it's anti-forced union. That's an important distinction.

Most of us who don't want to be in the unions don't oppose those who do at all. We believe in voluntary associations--if you want to join a union, please, feel free! It's no skin off our collective noses.

Union zealots, on the other hand, don't believe in that same freedom of association. They want everyone to have to pay a union, whether they want to or not. They want everyone else to support their beliefs.

I understand one of their arguments. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. And that is, since the Supreme Court has ruled that a union must represent all similar employees before an employer, all employees should pay their "fair share" (the agency fee) to support that representation. My issue with that is that the Supremes got it wrong--it's happened before!--and that they went too far, along with the rest of our government, in supporting unions. Requiring this forced association is unjust.

Honestly, I don't see much of a need for unions today. Most of the complaints unions were formed to address are now handled by government--the 5-day work week, overtime pay, occupational safety, etc. It's telling that since government now protects what unions used to protect, private sector union membership has sunk to new lows; only public sector union membership shows any strength at all.

Unions serve today only to bargain for more and more pay and perks--which I don't mind when I receive them, of course, but eventually there will be nothing more to give, and then what will the unions fight for? To answer this we should ask the United Auto Workers union members--or rather, all those tens of thousands of former members whose jobs moved from Detroit down South and overseas.

In principle, I support unions. I support voluntary associations of people who work together to accomplish more than what they could have accomplished separately. Heck, I might join such a union, since the law of supply and demand indicates that a collection of math and science teachers should command more pay than a collection of elementary school teachers, or of English and social studies teachers. But I'm not allowed to do such a thing, and unions as currently constituted don't want me to.

Because let's face it, unions today are nothing more than arms of the Democratic Party, a party I choose not to associate with. They exist almost solely to extort money from workers so they can spend it for political purposes.

So I go again to the CEAFU conference, not to deny others any freedom, but to seek my own.


Marbel said...

I just wanted to say your post was very interesting and enlightening to me, who has never belonged to any union. I've often wondered about the need for forcing people to join unions to work in particular industries. Your post was just very helpful to me in sorting out my thoughts on that.

As a homeschooler, I am sometimes accused of hating teachers, which is not true. I am bothered by some things I hear about teachers' union, though. I've often wondered if teachers could be free to be better teachers if they were not tied to union doctrine. Maybe some day you would address that in a post?

allen (in Michigan) said...

Unions are a monopoly on the labor supply so union leadership will always try to maintain/extend the monopoly. Nature of the beast and the only time you can win an argument about the subject is when the union leadership loses in the political arena. Fortunately, this nation's equivocal about monopolies. We like a few, tolerate a few others and see the remainder as big, bad bullies provided they aren't putting money into our personal pockets.

Call me a cock-eyed optimist ("OK, you're a cock-eyed optimist. Rimshot.) but I see the monopolies of both the teacher's unions and the public education system coming under increasing pressure. I think the source of that pressure's becoming increasingly obvious as well - charters. Sometime in the not-too-distant future that pressure's going to bust a seam somewhere and the district model will suddenly come into focus as something other then a natural law.

It might be New Orleans, Detroit or Washington D.C. It might be some entirely unexpected venue but there'll be a watershed event in which the value that the school district, and the central administration that's inevitably part of the school district, will come into question. Be interesting to see what the unions do to adjust to that event.

Lillian said...

Well said, Darren.
Cheers from one Agency Fee Payer to Another!

The Science Goddess said...

Go, Darren, go!

Darren said...

I'm going--in just a few weeks!