Tuesday, December 29, 2015

No More Dues?

   A hundred bucks a month for union dues. Good deal? What do you get? Medical, dental and eye care? No. Contrary to popular belief the city gives that money to the UFT to dole out to us. The UFT perpetuates the myth that our dues are what pays for medical. OK, well now that's clear.

   What else do we get (or not get)? Representation in legislature and with elected officials. This is true, but what kind of representation has it been? It seems that for everything we have gained, we have lost its equal. Lately, we seem to be losing more than we are gaining - just in appreciation for having a friendly face. What about those who have been given the authority and privilege to represent us? Have they taken their positions seriously and honorably in the manner in which most of us expect them to? As a veteran teacher who is now an ATR, I have my own opinions. As members of the UFT, all teachers pay the same dues and are merged together in one union. The last contract divided us. Many veteran teachers are ATRs and the contract specified separate and unequal treatment for us. I looked up words that describe antonyms for the word 'union' - division, separate and unequal were listed. If a union acts against its own members that union will fall. You can't knock the foundation beams of a house and expect it to remain standing.

    Does it matter whether or not the Supreme Court rules for or against mandatory UFT dues? Its legitimacy is over. It simply can't claim to represent its membership with contractual discrimination against a portion of its members. Well, what if this was changed? How? 77% of the members voted for it. It seems that many members do not have a fundamental understanding of what a union is. If they did, that contract would never have passed. Those 77% will opt out if given the chance. The 23% who voted against the contract, the very people who were discriminated against, are the members who may keep paying dues.

     There is also a much bigger issue - the assault on the middle class. All unions will be affected by this, including the ones (all) that never have or would treat their members in the manner of the UFT. If unions have to fight for survival, so will the middle class. Most of us are not wealthy and many of us have or will have children. I don't want to see my children and grandchildren struggle the way my grandparents did.

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