In the first place, unions as a general topic is a waste of space, effort and intellect. Unions were formed originally because there was a need and they actually served a purpose.
The problem is that time has changed and so have the unions. Where so many things have gotten better, unions have gone through the same conversion of every organization which is subject to corruption and lacks the oversight from the members. Liberals make fun of the Constitution and Obama basically ignored the separation of powers in the Constitution, however, this is exactly the problem that can develop in any organization which handles money without the proper controls.
Every union has been corrupted in the same way, over time. Here's the issue, unions collect dues from the members and promise services and representation. From an accounting perspective, this represents money coming in which is almost uncontrolled unless the members have the capability to track the money and have the desire to do so. The biggest issues in unions and money is that the leaders of the union often rise to leadership positions because they have a personal agenda for advancement. As with everything, power corrupts power so what happens is that the union leader is that they begin a process to shift more of the money to their benefit and fail to manage the agreements made with the members.
One of the best possible federal laws would be an annual audit of union finances for release to the members and the public. Over the years, there have been numerous examples of union leadership failing to operate in a manner which provides for the benefit of the union members. Recently, another union has uncovered the failure of the union to provide for the benefits promised as part of membership in the union and the associated paying of dues. The funny part is that the union wants the taxpayer to correct the shortage in the pension funds. Do you understand what is happening here?
The union leadership promised that the union would provide various benefits for the members, normally after retirement, in the form of pensions and / or health insurance. In addition, the leadership will represent all of the union members in labor negotiations with the business management. This is the general structure of a union - very simple, put everyone in the same pool and make promises of benefits with increased compensation, where everyone will receive the same without regard to who works harder and who doesn't work at all.
You are probably thinking that this is nothing but an opinion against unions and that would be correct but will pinpoint the issue of Teacher Unions, but first, there are underlying issues that should be reviewed. The first among these is the purpose of a union. Why would a business agree to work with a union? Because the union has also made promises of good intentions and cooperation, which of course, were lies. Remember, union leadership has their own agenda which is seldom openly discussed or admitted outside of the smoke filled back rooms.
This sounds a little conspiratorial and that is because it was meant to. Here is the political direction - unions represent socialism in a capitalist environment. Unions offer to represent the members in the compensation negotiations with the business. However, unions do not offer to negotiate compensation which is in direct proportion to the work actually performed. In other words, if Fred has worked for the company 5 years and generates 4 widgets per hour and Bill has worked for the company for 2 years and generates 5 widgets per hour, Fred will be paid the same as Bill even though Bill generates 25% more than Fred. This is one of the basic tenets of socialism, everyone is paid equally.
A union has no intention of doing what is best for the business, they are only interested in representing the worker, without regard to the value to the business. If a union does what is best for the business then we would never hear stories of workers that do nothing and still get paid, or workers that gather on their lunch hours, drink beer and smoke marijuana and can't be fired. If a union does what is best for the business then the union would be interested in developing and enhancing the union members, identifying those members that do not perform up to expectation and provide encouragement for personal growth or providing the means to eliminate his position for the betterment of everyone in the company.
One of the best examples of this failure is the multiple times that unions have failed to provide for the benefits offered to the membership. It is estimated that every union financial position is undervalued and cannot provide the benefits promised by the union. Most recently, the public sector union for the City of Detroit proved that they were unable to provide pension payments at current levels because there was not enough money in the pool. When the incoming dues stopped, it was discovered that the funds cannot operate without additional dues, in other words, there was not enough money in the pool and no one had been told.
The previous comments have intended to provide the impression that unions do not work for the best interests of everyone and that the leadership of the union is more interested in providing for their own interests and, most important, unions represent socialism. There are a number of questions that should be considered before simply dismissing these comments.
First, what is the purpose of public education? While this sounds like simple question, the point of the question is to have everyone agree on the starting level. Consider the name of the funding, public education funding. This would imply that the funding is to provide public education. What does public education mean to you? The goal is to provide the youth of the country with an education from 1st grade through 12th grade, providing the basis of an education that covers most areas of general knowledge. So, the taxpayer wants to end up with every student educated as well as possible to provide a basis for the adult life and career. Please note, that in the preceding description, there was no indication that the purpose of the funding is to provide jobs, it is to provide students with an education, remember that.
Second, who is the greatest obstacle in the placement of a teacher review system? This system would include comments from the students and track how the students have placed in the standardized testing against other students across all cities, counties and states. As discussed earlier, if a union wants to work in conjunction with the business (or the government) then the union will work to insure that the members of the union are providing the highest level of benefit for the compensation and all members of the union are working at the highest level possible. This would insure that the students are educated at the highest level and each student is motivated to be his best. A teacher review system would identify the best teachers and provide a grading system which could be used to provide variances in compensation based on quality instead of time on the job. A union that is dedicated to what is best for the taxpayer (whom the teachers and the union work for) will be more interested in keeping the teachers at the highest levels of performance because that is their only goal based on the purpose of public education. While this would be a complex grading system, it would provide the school system (taxpayer) with the means to retain the best teachers through better compensation for performance and provide the means to eliminate those teachers that refuse to participate at the desired level. Think back, there is a 'rubber room' function in New York City where teachers are being held because they can't teach in the classrooms, for whatever reasons. We need unions that desire to keep the best and eliminate those that refuse to be trained or developed.
Third: who is the greatest opponent to student selection of schools? Many school systems have developed the means for the student and parents to select the desired school by using vouchers. Of course, the student and parent will be responsible for the daily transporting but is that a small price to pay when the student will get a better education? Whether we want to admit it or not, not all schools are the same even though it was intended that all schools in the same district would be equal. The problem is that this does not happen. Perhaps the busing of students in previous generations was not a bad idea. Imagine - a huge campus in the middle of the district and all students were bused to this school. This would provide the means to insure that every student would have the opportunity to get the same education, so then the quality would depend on the student not the failings of the district or the administration. Teacher Unions don't want students to be able to choose because then the union has the ability to give the better teachers jobs in the better schools. Imagine that, preferential treatment in union leadership.
Fourth: who is the greatest opponent to charter schools? Once again, the greatest opponent to charter schools are the Teacher Unions and the reason is simple, teachers in charter schools do not belong to the teacher unions. Now this is understandable because charter schools are privately owned so the school can refuse to support or deal with unions. Charter schools can actually pay a teacher based on results instead of the negotiated contract with the union. All of this would be understandable if the results from charter schools were below the results from the public schools, but that is not the case, on the average, charter school results are superior to public schools and the simple question is WHY? If you give it some thought, it is not hard to figure out, teachers in unions do not need to worry about the grade they will get at the end of the year because their compensation is not dependent on a good grade.
Teacher Unions, like most unions, are worthless for the simple reasons that they do not provide positive results. If the union wants to provide positive results, the union leadership should develop, in conjunction with district leadership, a grading system that can be applied to all teachers. Basically there would be four levels:top level which would indicate that the district has placed these people at the top, a second level which would be acceptable results, the third level which would require the teacher to complete additional training and the fourth level where the teacher can be fired. The point is that the union needs to protect standards of performance instead of protecting those that are incapable to reaching the standards.
This is not only true in Teacher Unions, it is true for every public service union and all private industry union. Surprising, this is also true of professional organizations like the AMA.