Submitted by Katherine Dwyer, WEA Rep. Council Member
At 110,000 members, the Massachusetts Teachers Union (MTA) is now the largest union in the state¹. Our numbers are our power, as our collective voice speaks louder than our voices as individuals. The fact that we can speak and act as one when we need to is the reason that public school teachers in MA still enjoy many benefits that other full-time employees can no longer expect. But to keep the benefits and security public school employees have fought for in the past, we need to build our union. Without our members support, there is no power to bargain collectively, to stand up for one another with the support of a statewide organization; there is no union. The union is us, let’s build it together.
Unions are Good for Administrative and Teaching Staff:
- Higher pay: according to a 2011 study by the Bureau of Labor Management, public sector workers on average are paid $650 more per month than non-union members. According to the AFL-CIO, all union members are paid 30% on average than non-union members²
- Health Care: According the the AFL-CIO, 92% of union members have access to comprehensive health benefits as opposed to 62% of non-union employees
- Paid Leave: The BLM study also showed that union members average 28% more days of paid vacation, and 82% enjoyed paid sick leave compared to 60% of non-union employees
- Pensions: 77% of union employees were covered by pensions that guarantee a monthly benefit in 2004, also opposed to 20% in non-unionized jobs.
- Job security: employees must have “just cause” for firing a union employee and union members have firmly established ways to challenge unfair discipline and termination. This is not so for many “at will” employees, who can be fired at any time for almost any reason.
- Seniority benefits: experience and education matter and are compensated on union pay scales can speak up and take job actions to defend/ improve job with the security of numbers, political and legal backing.
Benefits for Students and Families:
- Better for students: A study from the University of Arizona that unionized school districts create higher level of student achievement than non-unionized districts³, in part because of those districts success in recruiting high-quality teachers
- Teachers unions go beyond OSHA and EPA laws to protect health and safety in schools, which benefits teachers and students alike.
- Teachers unions have long-fought for equity in education. Public education is founded on the idea that every person, regardless of gender, race, religion or social class has the right to the same high quality education.