Sunday, February 27, 2011

A somewhat political post

Many of you may know I am a teacher. You may not know I am a member of a teacher's union. And although I don't always agree with them, I have walked in rallies, stood on street corners with signs, passed petitions, and asked voters to support school bonds. I have been watching the news in Wisconsin and other states unfold this week. I watched the Governors of Wisconsin and New Jersey interviewed on Morning Joe and listened to what they have to say. And it is scary, states are in the hole, public employees cost a lot of money and cuts have to come from somewhere, but breaking unions?

Now here in CO, my district currently pays 75% of my pension deduction each month and they would cover the premium payment on my health insurance if I chose to be in their plan. I am not planning on the state pension plan being around when I retire since I know now that there are 4-5 retirees for every 1 state worker, there is no way that plan can remain solvent. Yet I don't have a choice about contributing. I am not expecting the school district or the state to support me in my retirement. I know that the amount I am contributing will probably have to go up in this next contract.

Now health insurance, I am lucky that I can opt out of our school district's plan. They would cover the cost of my individual premium, which is a great benefit to most people looking in from the outside. Our current plan is a $4000 individual deductible before the plan kicks in--which is a 10% or more paycut for most teachers. If you are covering your family, it is an $8000 deductible and way more out of pocket to pay for the premium. We cover our premiums on dental and vision and any supplemental insurance we choose(like short term disability for example so that you could get some money for say maternity leave). This is what our union negotiated for us last year, I believe it was in exchange for saving jobs for teachers.

Unions and collective bargaining are not the big evil people are trying to make it out. They try to get the best for their members, of course. But they have to look at the same budgets the school district is looking at, otherwise I have to believe my colleagues wouldn't have to choose between antiviral flu medicines and food and gas for their family. I am not expecting the teacher's union to be able to preserve my pay and benefits when the district has to cut $8-$12 million, but I do expect them to try and to fight for teacher's jobs as well as what is best for students--decent class sizes, good teachers, and a fair evaluation system. That is what collective bargaining does--looks at the situation and tries to do the best with it.

What do you think?


seeker said...
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seeker said...

If anyone, as an employee, has health insurance, paid leave, safe working conditions, lunch breaks, limits on the number of hours per day or per week they can work without overtime pay, or protection for their kids from working dangerous jobs, ...they need to thank a union. All of those innovations came about thanks to labor unions. People are looking for a scapegoat, and unions are in the crosshairs. Sadly, it will be too late when they realize what they have given up, and how little if anything, they got in return.