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Sometimes the Union Makes me Embarrassed to Call Myself a Teacher

I know that is it very unpopular for a teacher to be criticising the Education Union and I invite my readers who have been assisted by the union to defend them if they wish.

I was angered to hear that teachers through the union have been sending notes home to parents stating that they will not be writing end of year reports for their students. Why? Because they haven’t been paid enough money. Well, any teacher who abides by this nonsensical ruling doesn’t deserve to get paid a cent more!

I believe that teachers should be paid more than they do, but what a teacher gets paid is not as urgent as their duty to put their students first. Teachers and nurses do a fine job and deserve more than what they are earning. But we knew when we signed up for the job that the pay wasn’t fantastic. Yet, we still chose to become teachers and nurses. Why?

I hope the answer is because we felt that making a difference was more important than making a fortune.

The union have blinkered our teachers. Instead of helping us to nurture and inspire our students they have tried to make us selfish and unprofessional. Writing reports is a professional duty. Giving parents current and comprehensive feedback on the progress of their children is of paramount importance. Failing to do so on account of a few dollars is outrageous!

The children are not the ones underpaying us. The parents are not the ones to blame either. Leave them out of this. We are supposed to put them first. We are not supposed to lose sight of what we are trying to achieve here.

The unions are a shameless bunch. They have a record of bullying non member teachers (like myself) and through their greed have turned a sympathetic public well and truly off our cause.

I realise that many (if not all) will disagree with me. I encourage them to do so. This blog is about giving everyone the opportunity to debate the issues that effect education in a robust and thorough fashion.

I just can’t help but agree with the assessment of this parent who wrote of her outrage at receiving one of these letters:

I received late last week from my children’s school indicating that their teachers will not be writing any comments (apart from general behavioural ones) in the end of year reports this year. This means that students will have a very scant record of the year’s work particularly when it comes to specialist areas like LOTE and art. I have a son in prep so his end of year report for this year is pretty important.

I think asking students to forgo feedback for the year so that teachers can get a few more dollars shows a breathtaking lack of professionalism on the part of the teachers and an entitlement mentality that is just extraordinarily arrogant. If I had tried this sort of tactic in the private sector – refusing to complete reports for clients because I wanted more money – I would certainly have been sacked (and rightfully so).

Click on the link to read If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One

Click on the link to read Pressure in the Workplace

Click on the link to read Sick Teachers Need to be Arrested not Fired!

Click on the link to read Teaching Union Wants Porn on the National Curriculum

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3 Responses to “Sometimes the Union Makes me Embarrassed to Call Myself a Teacher”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    I think you need to make very clear which union(s) you are criticising, instead of tarring all unions with the same brush. For most of my career I was a member of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, a union with a proud history of supporting members and standing up for the needs of students in NSW public schools. Membership is open to all teachers in NSW public schools and members are encouraged to take an active part in union affairs. Union officials are elected by members in a secret ballot and Union policy is decided by the union’s annual conference which consists of delegates from every local association of members. Delegates are elected by the members and are bound to represent the wishes of the members at the Conference. Each month the Union meets in Council, again representing the local associations. Any action is vigorously debated with as many opinions aired as time allows.

    Every teacher in this country has a right to be represented by a union. Every teacher in this country has a right to participate in the decision maling process of the union. The union is only as good as its members. If you choose not to belong to the union and contribute to it’s business that is one thing. If you wish to run down the union you are running down each and every colleague who is a member of that union.

    Union bashing is a favourite pastime of the Australian media, except when it comes to the Journalists union.

    So as not to appear one-eyed, I have to agree that the union sometimes makes foolish decisions. Refusing to make comments on a school report seems to be such a decision on the surface and I wouldn’t support such an action. Being a member of the union I would be in a position to vigorously oppose such a move. The officers of a union are not a bunch of ogres bossing members about as depicted in the media. They are employees of the members. As such they are bound to follow the wishes of the members or face not being re-elected.

    My advice to teachers is that without the union you have nobody to defend you against unjust treatment by your employer unless you are personally wealthy enough to hire an expensive lawyer. It’s not a perfect organisation but the more members participate in the affairs of the union the better it can become. If one is not a member of a union set up to represent one’s welfare, or a non-participating member, it seems hypocritical to criticise the organisation when only by participating one can make all the difference.

    • Michael G. Says:

      John, as always I appreciate your contribution. You have provided balance to my arguments and your conviction towards improving conditions for teachers and their students is not lost on me. My position on the teaching unions (especially the ones in my home state Victoria) are not based on the media but on my own experiences and philosophy.

      As a side note, our Prime Minister was quoted during her testimony to Slater and Gordon that all unions have “slush funds”. Has that been your experience working in the union movement? How carefully are members fees accounted for? How much goes to political advertising, ALP fundraising and environmental charities (as is stated on their website)? What body oversees the spending and is their adequate transparency in this area?

      Thank you for your continued input and for being a passionate advocate for teachers and students.

      • John Tapscott Says:

        The NSW Teachers Federation is not affiliated with the ALP or any political party. Officers are paid according to the scales current in the Department Of Education and Communities. Members on official union business can claim travel expenses but need to submit receipts. If they use corporate charge cards all receipts must be attached to records. Travel expenses paid in advance are usually in the form of tickets booked by the union office.

        I can’t state that there is no slush fund but I would think it highly unlikely. There is too much scrutiny by interested and active members. Expenses for union officers, I think, are paid the same way that expenses are paid for teachers on Departmental business. When I worked as an itinerant teacher my travel and accommodation was either funded by Departmental charge cards or by me subject to a claim. There was no way I could fiddle or cheat. If the Government requires this kind of accountability from their employees, it’s a shame that the same kind of accountability is not required of politicians.

        The Teachers Federation regularly advertises in the media. The money comes from members fees, which are tax deductible.

        I am not certain how other unions operate but if I was a member of a union where members funds were used corruptly I would be kicking up a fuss. Union officials who rort the system are not working for their members, they are working for themselves and don’t deserve to be elected to such a position of trust. I will restate it: the more union members take an active interest in the affairs of their union the less chance there will be of corruption or of unwarranted industrial action. For anyone not in the union, it’s none of their business.

        As far as “slush” funds are concerned we need to be very clear what we are talking about. If a union so chooses to set up a fund that will support members financially during a period of protracted industrial action, I see that as a legitimate use of union funds. If on the other hand funds are set up for the purpose of circumventing normal accountability procedures, then we are talking about corruption. Any union not vigorously opposed to corruption is derelict in its duty towards its members.

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