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Unions don’t negotiate wages, they negotiate raises May 26, 2009

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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SchoolSpending, a blogger who used to serve on a school board, has a fascinating post detailing the problem with public sector unions, and teacher unions in particular.  Noteworthy:

[W]e didn’t negotiate wages or benefits.  We negotiated raises and increases in benefit costs — and how we would account for them.  And folks, that’s the problem.

Teachers deserve to be well paid, but in this economy, it’s hard to define what that means.  College graduates are looking desperately for jobs.  Salaries reflect the numbers of applicants chasing few jobs.  The notion of an underpaid teacher is becoming  outdated — especially when contrasted with unemployed workers.  Teachers do not make hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they do make a very decent salary that is based on 180+ days of 7 hours and 35 minutes of work (that’s the contracted part).   They are paid by a taxing authority, so there is little fear of a pay check not clearing the bank.  Pink slips are virtually non-existent.  There is no mandatory retirement age enforced, and quality is what the individual teacher chooses to deliver.  TE is one of 6 districts in PA that has met the PSEA goal of a $50K starting salary. This starting salary  goes up every single year — and the salary for each teacher goes up every single year (and each salary step seems to increase with every single contract).  Districts (taxpayers)  pay for graduate education that triggers another form of raise for negotiated levels of achievement.  Teachers have a benefit plan that doesn’t resemble anything in the private sector in that the employer (again: taxpayer) pays virtually (and in some cases 100%) all of it.  And no matter what year it is, or how long the contract is, the above comments stay true.  The end of one contract simply  means you start talking about the new raises, and the new, higher starting salaries, and the new “top step” money….but rarely do you add any obligation to the process of teaching.  Sometimes they will add a non-teaching day (or even a teaching day) but that increases the salary and obfuscates the actual raise percentages.   Oh yes — you are tenured after 3 years…so performance isn’t a factor in your salary either.

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