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Unions -- From my email

by Evie / August 21, 2005 3:18 AM PDT

As you all know, I belong to a teacher's union (mandatory) -- actually two -- as I am an adjunct faculty member for a few different institutions of higher learning.

I just received an email requesting my presence at a demonstration to be held by graduate student employees at another institution (not all that closeby I might add).

I don't think this kind of stuff passes the smell test. If the grad student employees at University X want to strike or stage a protest that is their right. And if the faculty or other employees of that university want to support them, go for it! But I don't know anything about University X so to add my voice to their protest would be meaningless. I wonder how many other faculty are considering adding their voice. Further distancing the issue from anything relevant to my union membership and standing is the fact that the issue at hand at UX is whether or not the union has any standing for this type of employee there. The NLRB ruled it doesn't. The union seems to feel that my support is needed for UX to acknowledge it anyway despite the ruling, because (surprise, surprise) the union claims that the NLRB ruled wrongly.

How this impacts my situation is beyond me. My institution lobbied hard to prevent unionizing of the faculty some years back, but accepted the union once the faculty voted for it. I've never heard a peep from the Administration since against the union or challenging its rights to negotiate contracts. Meanwhile, as far as the union business that DOES effect me, I was told to call the organizer for times and locations of future bargaining sessions if I'm interested in attending. Hmmm... shouldn't THAT be my unsolicited email from the union, not merely a footnote (requiring action on my part) in this email that has absolutely nothing to do with me, my institution, my fellow faculty members, or even faculty members elsewhere to whom my only connection is membership in the same union?


Evie Happy

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Interesting. Are the grad students paying income taxes?
by Kiddpeat / August 21, 2005 4:54 AM PDT

I remember MIT held that grad student stipends were not taxable. I guess we weren't considered employees.

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When I was a grad student ...
by Evie / August 21, 2005 5:33 AM PDT

... my stipend was taxable income. But I had tuition waived and that part of my compensation wasn't taxed. I was considered a University employee. The law may have changed on that. When I first went part time to grad school and my employer reimbursed tuition, that wasn't taxable, that law changed and it was taxes after that. My employer was good about this for a time they reimbursed more than the tuition so that my "after tax take home" still covered the full tuition.

My grad student stipend amounted to less than minimum wage. BUT I had some decent benefits, and that calculation didn't include the waived tuition.

Evie Happy

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How does it feel to be a member of a criminal organization?
by EdH / August 21, 2005 5:07 AM PDT

Sounds like they're making you an offer you can't refuse!

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Sounds just like politics to me.......
by Mac McMullen / August 21, 2005 6:12 AM PDT

Turn out the masses and the public will assume that every
one in the "mass" endorsed the 'party line'.

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Unions, by their nature, violate free speech.
by dirtyrich / August 21, 2005 1:35 PM PDT

I'm interning this year and will be a full-fledged school teacher next year,a nd will be "required" to join the local unions. Money will be taken out of my checks to support causes I do not agree with or will benefit from, in fact, much of the money will be spent on causes that have little to do with education.

*Despite the claim in the article that Wal-Mart practices anti-education policies, the issues listed have nothing to do with education.*

I'm not sure what the penalties are if I somehow refuse to pay my dues or participate, but I'm guessing the unions would track me down and do something unpleasant.

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In my experience they don't. They extract their fees from
by Kiddpeat / August 21, 2005 1:41 PM PDT

your paycheck before you even see it. When they don't do that, they try to insure that you won't be hired unless you pay up.

You cannot be forced to pay for political activies, but the unions don't engage in political acivities. Do they? Devil

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a question
by JP Bill / August 21, 2005 1:54 PM PDT
much of the money will be spent on causes that have little to do with education.

Are you saying union dues should be used to pay for education?
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The unions supposedly exist
by dirtyrich / August 21, 2005 9:18 PM PDT
In reply to: a question

to improve teachers' working situations... pay, school conditions, work requirements, and to improve the teachers' voices in education policy. Prehaps I generalized too much in my previous statement, but the union's activities should in some way tie to school. Wal-Mart has nothing to do with school, and union time and money should not be wasted in speaking out against it.
As have been suggested, unions have simply become political action groups with a mandatory membership and guaranteed funding base (teachers and other workers). Overwhelmingly, unions endorse and engage in activites benefiting the Democratic Party, despite the party's lack of action on the unions' behalf. The unions are closely tied to the Democratic Party with nothing to show for it... and many members who would not want to support the Dems are forced to.
A telling point was the recent split of the AFL-CIO. Which party was most upset about it? The Dems, because they realized the strong possibility that a couple of the major unions might not provide aid in the coming years.

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They should be used ...
by Evie / August 21, 2005 11:10 PM PDT
In reply to: a question

... specifically and directly to negotiate MY labor contract. I'm forced to be in the union and thus forced to pay the dues. A goodly chunk of them go for political activities I not only disagree with but that have little-to-no relevance to negotiating fair labor contracts with my institution.

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"I'm not sure what ...
by Evie / August 21, 2005 10:34 PM PDT

... the penalties are if I somehow refuse to pay my dues or participate, but I'm guessing the unions would track me down and do something unpleasant.

Well, it's downright impossible to refuse to pay. It's deducted from your paycheck just like taxes and you don't get a choice. I do think you can opt out (but donate to charity) of a certain portion deemed used for political activities -- but teachers' unions are notorious for keeping the "books" as confusing as possible re: this.

I feel your pain regarding how the unions spend the dues. Wait until you get a national union rag come 2008. It is absolutely disgusting. And you won't need to wait until '08 to read articles that spin the successes of vouchers and charter schools into failures while naming useless "teacher of the year" awards in schools that can't teach kids to read.

Evie Happy

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