I can definitely understand why outsiders think that collective bargaining in the educational field is all about money and benefits. It seems like those two things are the only things mentioned when politicians say that we need to curb these rights.
Bargaining is about much more than just salary or health benefits. In fact, salaries and benefits are only a very small part of why we teachers bargain. In addition to money, teachers’ unions talk about the following at the bargaining table:
- Teacher evaluation
- Class size
- Sick leave
- Work rules
- Promotion guidelines
- Grievance procedures
- Amount of time worked
- Daily/yearly schedule
- Funding available for new hires
- Working conditions
That is by no means a complete list, but it is still substantial. Removing the rights of teachers to bargain as a union would mean removing much of their autonomy. A school district would legally be able to say, “Seven period days with no prep time and 60 kids at a time is now the norm for this district. And you’ll all be taking a pay cut for the privilege.”
Sound fair? Nope. It sounds like something that will scare prospective teachers away from the field, something that we can’t afford.