For over one hundred years, the teachers’ unions have been not only frowned upon, but scorned by many. Those who do not understand the true motives of the educators who participate in such organizations see their actions as selfish and even communist. The teachers’ unions have been struggling to survive since they were born.
The first teachers’ union, the National Education Association (NEA), began in 1857, and consisted of over three million members (Certified Educators). This union, like most, consists of educators of all sorts including middle school teachers to college professors. The NEA’s big accomplishments began in the early 1900’s, beginning with their recognition as the “nation’s primary public teacher’s union by Congress” (Certified Educators). They then went on to merge with several other similar organizations and even worked with the NAACP to de-segregate schools (Certified Educators). Since then more than two million other teachers have joined the union.
Educators join teachers’ unions for several benefits, mainly for support in their career, regulation in their work environment, and, of course, legal aid. Often in education, teachers get the short end of the stick. They are habitually taken advantage of by not only their school district leaders, but state officials as well. Enter teachers’ unions. Hardly anyone in a high position is going to listen to one lowly teacher. “Unions are set up to minimize frictions and maximize benefits for the bottom 55%. That's how they work everywherein schools, and out. That's how they have to work” (The Economist Online). The teachers’ unions give those ‘lowly teachers’ a voice.
The main way the teachers’ unions use their voice is either by protesting or striking. “There have been over one hundred and twenty teachers’ strikes in the United States since 1918” (Oakes). As could be expected, most of these strikes were finance related. The largest teachers’ strike in US history took place in New York in 1962, carried out by the United Federation of Teachers in New York, or the UFT (Cole). TIME magazine explained, “Demanding a $53million raise, the union aimed to boost New-York's current pay scale of $4,800-$8,600 (plus bonuses) to $5,400-$9,500. When the board of education insisted that only $28 million was available from city and state funds, the teachers went out.” During the strike, over 22,000 teachers walked out of their classes in order to support their cause (Cole). The strike only lasted for one school day; however, by the end, the UFT had achieved what they set out to do (Cole). New York, on the other hand, was not happy. Though, in New York, under the Condon-Wadlin act, teachers are forbidden to protest, New York could not possibly terminate 22,000 teaching positions, and was therefore forced to meet with the union’s demands (TIME). In result of having to pay the teachers more, purchases for the schools had to be put on hold (TIME). One can imagine the public was not too thrilled at this outcome. Unfortunately, strike outcomes are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons for the public to hate the teachers’ unions
Those who demote teachers’ unions tend to fall in the same general category. Most of them are Christian senior citizen Republicans (Cole). Arguments against the teachers’ unions are wide. For one, many believe teachers’ motives are selfish and they’re only in the union so as to assure they’ll keep their job and receive pay increases. Another argument is unions keep incompetent teachers in their positions when they should be dismissed (Moore). Going along with that, it has been said teachers don’t have to work as hard as those who are not in a union, because they know if anything were to threaten their position, they have a union to back them up (Moore). Then, of course, there are the arguments against protests and strikes. Many believe protests are disruptive and violent; they believe the unions’ problems...