Unions: Observations from the Inside

For now…

Here’s a selected comment from Reddit, that’s representative of some oft repeated sentiments from people in Teacher’s Unions:

[–]GroverEatsGrapes 2 points 25 minutes ago

Like you, I’m concerned about the government’s willingness to get involved in labour disputes.

But let’s be clear… a strike by workers at Air Canada is tantamount to holding the entire country hostage. This is too much power to be given to the associated unions. There must be a balancing force to prevent this kind of power from being misused.

Teachers also have a great deal of power. Their unions have arranged things very nicely for teachers. Teachers get more time off in a year than virtually anyone else. The summer break alone is enough to vault them to the top of the time off list. But they also get vacation time. They get extended breaks for many holidays, without the need to use those vacation days. They also work short days. My son is home from school at 2:30 in the afternoon. I have watched teachers leaving the parking lot before my son comes to the door. Yes, many are dedicated and put in a lot of extra hours coaching teams, preparing lessons, and marking student work. But this is not a requirement. Teachers who are less dedicated arrive in time to deliver the bare minimum of content and head for the door when the last bell rings. There’s no requirement for them to take work home with them – they have designated periods throughout the day to do this stuff at the school. All of this together would suggest that the associated compensation would reasonably be on the low side. But this isn’t the case. Their benefits are excellent. They are afforded extraordinary access to on-the-job training opportunities. Teachers are very much over compensated.

I say this as a teacher myself.

People forget that schools originally released their students for the summer months not because it benefits the students – but because those students were required on the farm to work. Things have changed a lot since the days when this was necessary. The population is primarily urban now – and mechanization of farm work has made it less necessary for rural kids to work they way they once did. Since the science clearly indicates that keeping kids in school year-round would benefit their education – why is it not happening. The answer, in a word is unions.

Those same unions are protecting the bad teachers. They have developed a system that dis-incentivizes teachers from caring about kids. They have removed any ability for a teacher to discipline students meaningfully. They have sought, and won, concessions in wages and benefits that have robbed dollars from programs like music and art. There’s only so much money – and the unions’ gimmie gimme policy leaves little for even necessities like text books.

So the unions have benefited enormously from a system which has been rigged in their favour for years. Teachers have been riding the wave. It’s certainly time for some common sense to be injected into the picture.

Like I said, I am a teacher. I take home a healthy pay cheque. I would still be a teacher if they paid me much much less, because I love the work. There are plenty like me. Unfortunately, the leeches – the ones who don’t care about the kids – outnumber good teachers, and not by just a little. They simply can not be fired – unless they either sleep with or assault a student.

Unions are great. They were, at one time, absolutely necessary. That time has come and gone. In recent memory unions have had to focus on getting their members more, in order to justify their existence.

It’s a balancing act – the government is trying to walk a line where the needs of the unions do not trump the welfare of society at large. Without this kind of intervention, unions would put this whole country out of business.

[–]worstchristmasever 1 point 8 minutes ago

Unfortunately many unions protect bad workers at the peril of canadian businesses. I’m speaking from first-hand experience. The reasons why workers should have some kind of leverage against employers is more obvious now than in the recent past, with the job market being like it is.

But consider this: Why should some complacent 55-year-old be able to make $100k when there are 2 25-year-olds who would happily work harder, produce better quality work and make half as much? This situation is not at all uncommon and it’s hurting more people than it helps.

[–]GroverEatsGrapes 1 point 18 seconds ago

I agree.

To be fair, there are plenty of motivated 55-year-olds, and no shortage of underachieving 25-year-olds. Really, it isn’t so much the age that is the problem – it’s the dedication that matters.

Union workplaces systemically dis-incentivize the kind of dedication that the best workers in any industry bring to the job.

[–]salmontarre 3 points 43 minutes ago

Doesn’t matter in the long run, because what the union busters seemingly fail to recognize is that the existence of unions is the compromise.

If unions go, then molotov cocktails and radical politics will be as appealing to the shit-for-pay employee as they have been in the past.

Related article and a list of around 200 restrictive labour laws, with a brief summary for each. We have a lot of work ahead of us to change legislatio

[–]TheWinrar 3 points 1 hour ago

What are we going to do about it?

Go on strike!

[–]TemporaryBoyfriend 1 point 58 seconds ago

Teacher’s unions (especially here in Ontario) hold some of the largest investment portfolios in the country.

Let them do some lobbying like everyone else with money.

[–]LegionX2 2 points 15 minutes ago

FDR was a big fan of unions and even HE foresaw problems with them in the public sector:

“The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the head of the National Federation of Federal Employees. In the private sector, organized employees and the employer meet across the bargaining table as (theoretical) equals. But in the public sector, said FDR, “the employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.”

Allowing public-employee unions to engage in collective bargaining would mean opening the door to the manipulation of government policy by a privileged private interest.

You don’t need to be raving union buster to see problems with civil servants denying citizens access to services of their own government because they’re having a labor dispute.

[–]SaintSamuel 1 point 16 minutes ago

It’s hard to answer that question. I work for a company that belongs to the CAW local 222 union, and for the first time 2 weeks ago i went to a union meeting. The reason i went was because the company is going through with a few very harsh unreasonable changes, and from what I got from the union meeting, because of the poor contract the union couldn’t do anything. When the idea of a strike arose, the union said ‘whoa whoa, not now, didn’t you hear what happened in BC and london ontario? We can’t chance that.” Although they did assure us that they ‘are working on a strategy’. It seems that i cannot trust the union to protect me, and i cannot trust the company to keep a fair workplace. I don’t know how this happened

 

[–]wideiris 1 point 16 minutes ago

we have to recognize the optics of unions is bad, and not all unions are good. the bad part of unions that the public decry is that ‘you can’t be fired’ and you make too much. first, we have to make firing people easier. this sounds crass, but unions look bad because they shield bad people sometimes. let’s make it a bit easier to get rid of the people we shouldn’t be associated with. second, we need to ensure that people in the free market understand that unions ensure THEIR wages/benefits are higher by offering a comparable model. if there were no unions, there’d be much less drug plans/sick days/wage increases in the private/non union sector. those bastards need us to line their own pockets.