October 02, 2002
A Union Man's Lament

When I consider the following facts, it amazes me that the percentage of American workers who belong to labor unions continues to drop:

  • I work part-time as a middle school teacher: 3 classes per day, which is 3/5ths of a full-time position. With all the grading, class preparation, and supervision of after-school detentions, it's still close to a 40-hour week, at least until summer arrives. If I stay in public school teaching next year, I will also have to take 18 credit hours of education courses to win certification, and those will take a lot of time.
  • Part-time workers in New York public schools are allowed to choose whether to join the teachers' union or not. At least so they told me at orientation.
  • I have never done or said anything to suggest that I might want to join the union.
  • I owe the union nothing, since my own salary was negotiated separately. Latin is a 'critical needs' area, with a severe shortage of teachers, so they asked me what I wanted to make and gave me what I asked. I probably should have asked for more, since they agreed without any argument and many of my 7th and 8th-graders are lazy and a few are quite nasty. (The 6th-graders are a lot of fun.) It's not surprising that they agreed immediately, since it was already the fourth day of school and I'm pretty sure I was their only candidate for two (actually 1.6) positions.
  • My first full paycheck (for two weeks work) lists a deduction of $30.42 for union dues. Over the course of a year, that will add up to a lot of money.

Now I have to decide whether to make a stink, and possibly some enemies, by quitting what I never asked to join. Being (a) cheap, (b) irritated by their presumption, and (c) not too fond of unions in general, I think I will.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at October 02, 2002 11:03 PM

It's probably illegal for them to be deducting union dues without your permission. Check around. Probably, the first step is to request that they stop and to refund your money, and see what they have to say to that.

Posted by: David Perron on October 3, 2002 08:07 AM

Good on you.
You will always be trampled on unless you speak up.
I am just surprised that there is ANY market for Latin teachers.
Maybe you should tell us all why some day

Posted by: Dr John Ray on October 3, 2002 09:06 AM

I wouldn't worry too much about the effort and time consumed by 18 hours of education courses. See Joanne Jacobs' post about "glitter."

Posted by: steevil on October 3, 2002 03:28 PM

Unless you are in a right-to-work state, it is quite possible that you are required to pay dues (or the equivalent amount) whether you join the union or not. The are far more states that don't have right-to-work laws than do.

Posted by: WWHawkeye on October 4, 2002 06:04 PM

I would certainly ask for your money back. If it's not possible to get a refund, then ask the school district for a raise of $30.42 per pay period.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 4, 2002 08:07 PM

One thing.

If the Union sics thugs on you, post a request to me. At that time I'll get to you personal info to really get to me (I hesitate to give out my e-mail, let alone my home address and phone number).

I wouldn't be opposed to coming up there and putting a few kneebreakers in the hospital, for a good cause.

With worse injuries than a mere broken knee. It kinda sucks to have your testicles crushed.

If they threaten to get violent, you have backup. They really don't want to f*ck with me.

Posted by: Iron Fist on October 5, 2002 12:04 AM

My Father has hinted to me that we have family members associated with..the "family" (it helps to have a Italian background). What a fight between the remaments of the Gotti's organization verse the Teachers Union would be : )

Posted by: Nick M. on October 6, 2002 11:08 AM

Definitely ask for that money because 1) you need it--everybody knows teachers don't make enough for the work they do and 2) I think some or most of it will go to support political candidates you may not like.

Please let us know what you do about this!

Posted by: jane on October 7, 2002 05:27 PM