As the battle in Wisconsin continues and even spreads throughout the nation to other states, I'm wondering what your experience or opinion is of unions.
As a teacher, I'm a member of a union, except they're usually euphemistically referred to as "professional organizations" around here. When I first started teaching fifteen years ago I was told by mentors, "It's for your own protection! If you get sued, they'll provide a lawyer for you!" As a naive new teacher, this sounded pretty reassuring and I signed up.
Through the years I've only called upon the union one time. My first teaching job was with a strict micro-manager who oversaw every detail of your day and felt the need to comment on it all. One time she called us into faculty meeting and told us that kids were not to be allowed out of class to go to the restroom; those issues should be handled between classes.
The very next day a student runs into my room between classes, tosses his books on his desk, and runs back out saying, "I have to go to the bathroom!" He did not return before the tardy bell and as procedure directed, I put his name on my tardy slip report for the day and turned it in. The next day I had a note in my box that a letter had been placed in my personnel file that I was insubordinate and had allowed a student to leave class when previously directed not to do so.
Obviously this is not what happened. Long story short, I had to call upon my union rep to help me get the letter removed from my file and get the matter straightened out.
Politically, I seldom agree with my union - er, professional organization. I've had very little dealings with them. I know my father loathed the unions and swore that they were ruining the country. I do know I pay a hefty amount in dues to belong to this professional organization. Is it worth it? I don't know, really.
So, as the battle in Wisconsin spreads, as it seems to be doing, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on unions and what experience you've had with them.