As a teacher who supports his union, I just had to take a moment to respond to the misleading and misinformed remarks by Susan Fischer which were published in a letter to the editor on Aug. 29. She wrote that she could not understand why she had to pay her 85 percent fair share of union dues and she insinuates that since she never needed representation she does not need a union.
As a fact, Ms. Fischer benefits immensely from her union. The contract her union negotiates with her employer determines her compensation, benefits and work rules. Without this collective bargaining process, Ms. Fischer could be blessed with some of the work rules experienced by our colleagues in a so-called “right to work” state like North Carolina.
A former colleague of mine had to relocate there for her husband’s job. She now has the burden of paying 100 percent of her health insurance costs and paying a substitute teacher out of her own pocket when she is sick. Such insulting work rules for a professional accompany a state average teacher salary of $49,837 during the 2016-17 school year, which was $6,500 less than it was in 1999-2000.
Ms. Fisher also complains about political actions of the New Jersey Education Association. Facts are facts, public school conditions are controlled by politicians. Educators need a seat at the table that sets these conditions. Educators, not union bosses, vote on political endorsements based on candidates’ positions on education policies.
Sorry, but candidates that may seem palatable to Ms. Fisher probably support diverting money from public education in favor of voucher and charter school schemes and support using an ever-increasing load of standardized tests and questionable psychometrics in order to measure “teacher performance.” It is in educators’ best interests that public schools are well equipped to meet the needs of their students.
Unfortunately, people like Ms. Fischer want it both ways. They have no problem benefiting from the strength of the collective bargaining process, but bemoan the fact that it costs money and resources.
It was striking that she even writes that the NJEA should “stop the lobbying and protect our benefits.” The two obviously go hand in hand. The characters who argued the Janus case were a “who’s who” of the anti-worker, pro-corporation agenda. I hope that more educators and members of the general public can see these links.