Teachers’ Unions On the Defensive

The conservative political climate now endangers teachers’ unions, which face attack from both federal and state governments. New measures, threaten to limit teachers’ abilities to strike, raise money, and bargain. The measures also limit tenure and a unions’ abilities to negotiate issues such as privatization of schools. A new Michigan law, for example, which teachers are now fighting in the courts, allows teachers to be fined if they strike and Republican Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson proposes allowing school boards to decide on merit-pay plans without agreement from teachers’ unions. For the first time, Indiana’s State Teachers’ Association will not have the ability to bargain for “fair share” agreements, which allow the Union to assess fees to nonmember teachers. This law came about after a Republican Congress overruled the Democratic Governor’s, Evan Bayh, veto. Republican leaders have targeted the National Education Association, which, with 2.2 million members, is America’s largest Union. They have also targeted the American Federation of Teachers, which maintains 875,000 members.


New York Times, 9/4/95

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