Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Most Teachers Are Not In Unions

From the Education Intelligence Agency, the go-to place for information about teachers unions (among other things):
Union Share of Teacher Workforce at Historic Low. Last week we examined how teacher unions stand in relation to the rest of the labor movement. As the number of union members overall continued its decades-long decline, teacher unions were able to add members for many years, and so became the predominant sector of organized labor.

But how have the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers fared in relation to the teaching workforce? Was teacher union growth a function of organizational effort, or simply the expansion of the teaching population? Thanks to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and, we have an answer.

BLS began tracking union data in 1983. That year there were more than 2.6 million people employed as primary, secondary and special education teachers in both public and private schools. More than 1.5 million of them were union members, for a unionization rate of 57.5 percent.

By 1995 there were 600,000 more teachers, but the unionization rate was virtually identical. In the 18 years since, the rate has never approached that height again.

In fact, while America’s schools added almost a million and a quarter new teachers, teachers’ unions added fewer than 345,000 new members, for a rate of 27.8 percent.
The graphic in the linked article is impressive.

Since anyone who wants to *can* be in a union, why are so many teachers choosing not to be? Interesting question.  U-bots, any ideas? 


Ellen K said...

Working in Texas, a right to work state, I don't have to belong to a union although some teachers do belong to the NEA affiliated TSTA. I belong to ATPE, not for the perks, but for liability insurance. When you talk to most teachers, that is the main reason any of them join these organizations. The other professional groups I joined basically so that my students would be allowed to participate in the state competitions. I would LOVE to not belong to these groups as I find their rah-rah attitudes annoying. I am sure that teachers in union states join for access to jobs as well as similar legal protections. It's rather sad we have to do that isn't it?

robber barrons said...

wages stagnate while corporate profits soar.

in other news, union membership continues to decline.

completely unrelated, no doubt.

Coincidence, that's all.

allen (in Michigan) said...

I also found the article frustrating due to the lack of any reason given for union membership coming to a halt.

Partly it might be due to population growth occurring in areas that aren't particularly union-friendly. Another component of union membership halt might be the expansion of charter schools which are inherently resistant to unionization. Their small membership potential being uneconomic to organize.

But that's just guessing which is frustrating. I'd like to know the "why".

Darren said...

I'd venture that most teachers teach in government schools. I don't see how soaring corporate profits relate to fewer and fewer teachers voluntarily choosing unions.