Why we don’t need teacher’s unions: reason #1301

As the member of a large national government employment union I can say public employment unions are a cancer to their employers.  75% of the function of a public employee union’s role is ensuring inept employees don’t get fired for their incompetence.  The other 25% of their time is consumed spending union dues bleeding taxpayers dry.  They never take into account that the taxpayers are now the stone from which no blood can be drawn.

Here is just the latest public admission that teacher’s unions are in the business of keeping the dregs of the teaching profession influencing our children:

(MichiganCapitalConfidential) — Bay City Public School teachers for years could be caught repeatedly under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol without being fired.

Teachers in possession or under the influence of illegal drugs could be caught three times before they lost their job, and they got five strikes if they were drunk on school grounds before being fired. A school district official said the language in the union contract that protects teachers for those instances “was incorporated into the teacher Master Agreement in 1997.”


A teacher caught selling drugs in class would get a 3-day suspension without pay with mandatory counseling, but wouldn’t be fired unless the teacher did it a second time.

Bay City Teacher’s Union President unavailable for comment

What do union negotiators know about the teachers in the Bay City Public Schools that this would even make it to negotiating table?  Perhaps a teacher can provide some insight into the need for a provision such as this. I also wonder how many incidents the union first requested before the agreed upon numbers were conceded.  If I found out my local teachers had a contract which allowed such behavior to be tolerated, I’d get a second job to pay for private school.


  1. I would say unions need to be dramatically reformed, but not done away with altogether.

  2. Public sector unions should be eliminated. Public employees are public servants and should be thankful to have such a good job with such great pay an benefits compared to similar private sector jobs.

    I spent 33 years as a Federal Employee (postal service, air traffic control) and the unions were all about protecting the lazy, incompetent and drunks, etc. And they were all about spending their PAC money for Democrats and never for Republicans, no matter what percentage of Republicans were employed!

    Public sector unions should be illegal.

  3. “Public sector unions should be eliminated. Public employees are public servants and should be thankful to have such a good job with such great pay an benefits compared to similar private sector jobs.”

    I hope you appreciate the irony here, Glenn

  4. Mainly, a way to ensure performance by those within the union. In other words, accountability for their performance.

    • So you think all aspects should stay: negotiating salary paid for by taxpayers, the ability to strike in order to force taxpayers to pay more for their already high salaries, negotiate pensions which is essentially a salary to not work paid for by taxpayers, etc.?

      Just having to do a good job should be reformed?

  5. ^[This aspect should be reformed]

  6. Oscar, can you explain the irony?
    Yes, the unions got them the pay – which is atrociously high compared to the private sectors. I would would have worked the same job for a lot less money. In ATC they took the pay rates way too high in the late ’90s to where it was almost embarrassing to tell people I was a controller, because they immediately had an attitude problem about the extortion which got the absurd pay raises. I fought against the demands of PATCO in 1981 and when they violated their oath and went on strike I stayed behind.

    If all the unions did was negotiate for more equitable pay and benefits, I wouldn’t really have a problem. But all I saw was demands for gross increases in pay and benefits as well as demands to permit idleness, bad performance, and slovenly dress codes, as well as protecting the drunks and drug addicts.

    And don’t get me started on the crap I witnessed during my tenure with the USPS.

  7. John,

    I didn’t say that. I said mainly.

    I think we all three agree that the structure, and the functionality, of unions need reform. But, I still haven’t heard a sufficient enough reason why unions should be disbanded altogether. Do you not think they serve a purpose?

    • Unions were necessary in a time when work conditions were deplorable. Public employee unions now are wholly unnecessary. Wages would be competitive with the private sector and so would benefits. They’d have to be otherwise no one would work for the govt. They serve no purpose than to keep lazy, incompetent, misbehaving hacks in good paying jobs. I speak from my experience with a large state employee union and a large federal employee union.

  8. The nature of a capitalistic system is that the one will take advantage of another. This is not meant to be disparaging in any way, but it’s how the system works, a notion with which even Smith agreed. Taking away unions entirely would eventually lead to a reversion of laborers being taken advantage of. Their purpose is precisely to ensure proper working conditions.

  9. I didn’t say that either, Glenn

    • Oscar

      I think the problem Glenn and I might be having is that you initially said public unions are needed and do good, but need a bit of change. When asked what would you change and what would you keep, you only said there needs to be a provision that doesnt protect incompetence. It kind of implies you’d be fine with keeping everything else as-is. So maybe you’d elaborate about which aspects of a government employee union you like, and which you don’t.

  10. Sure —

    Safeguarding against incompetence

    Restricting wage inflation that would put wages above the competitive market. Doing so would also help increase jobs in companies that have unions. (On that note, I don’t think teachers are over-paid).

    An employee should elect to be involved in a union and should not be coerced into doing so. Especially considering that dues are [usually] needed in order to be a part of a union.

    Restricting union monopolization, which would therefore aide in restricting wage inflation

    Those are the main ones that I can think of off the top of my head. Despite all this, however, the fact remains that there needs to be an institution in place in order to protect workers’ rights.

    • Oscar

      Just so we are on the same page here, we are talking about government employees, not private businesses. Since they are government employees they are essential to having society working. Ultimately one of the reasons their wages are so inflated compared to private workers in the same fields is their ability to shut the community down. So you (i’m guessing) are ok with making striking illegal for all government workers?

      And on a tangent, how can you think teachers are not over paid what with Chicago teachers being among the highest paid and a huge failure rate, drop out rate, and low literacy rate? What are they doing so right that they deserve a 16% pay raise and not have to get results? If the kids arent learning, for whatever reason, why do they deserve so much?

  11. Oh sorry, I have this nasty habit of conflating the two all the time, actually.

    I actually think ‘striking’ is a legitimate form of protest. Having said that, the justifications for said protests can’t be capricious in nature. And given the proffered reforms of maintaining wages to compete with the fair market value, I don’t really see a need arising for protesting aside from some egregious actions being committed against the workers, which would be the point of protesting anyway.

    I’m not sure how in depth you want to get into the whole teacher thing, so I’ll try to keep this brief. Philosophically, I think teachers, in general, are vastly under-paid, given the nature of their profession: that of being the foundation for American ingenuity, creativity, innovation, etc. Proper education is the lowest common denominator for any “success story”. Given this, given their invaluable role in our society, teachers should be paid drastically more than they currently are. Secondly, the failure rate of students is not completely dependent on teachers. This is not an exoneration of the teachers, but one must also consider a myriad of social factors that can influence one’s education. And given the social state of, predominantly, Chicago’s south side, it’s hard to simply overlook these extra-curricular factors. Lastly, the methods of evaluating teachers and their “successes” is broken – but I fear that discussion is something that can be saved for another time entirely.

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