We often hear stories of unions protecting the jobs of undeserving teachers. I don’t plan to focus on those outliers too much here or in future newsletters, but I’d like to address it in brief. Unions are required by law to protect all members’ rights. They can’t pick and choose whose rights to protect, and they have no legal say in the hiring and firing process. In fact, even if a union removes a member from its ranks for unprofessional, unethical, or egregious behavior, it’s still legally obligated to represent the employee.
A union offers very little protection against justified discipline or termination as long as management follows the contract and documents and carries out discipline in accordance with the law and due process. Essentially, unions don’t protect "bad" teachers; instead, administrators do when they fail to properly document discipline and follow legally enshrined due process protections, such as providing appropriate feedback and remediation for mistakes. Unions are simply adhering to a legal obligation to advocate for all members.
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.