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Heart Wrenching Tale of Union Oppression – as Told by Their Very Own Teacher of the Year
posted by: Alana | February 25, 2015, 03:04 AM   


Just this month, Minnesota Teacher of the Year Tom Rademacher wrote a narrative in the Education Post about his experience with the teachers union that bestowed him such a title. And to put it bluntly, despite his support of the union model, his union expose describes a less than enthusiastic account of his involvement.


In fact, this piece is chock full of carefully crafted language and harsh undertones condemning current union practices with phrases like “ambivalence,” “pushed aside,” “unwelcomed,” and “devalued.”


He tells of a story where a new teacher came to a local union meeting to ask for help and was shot down immediately. And another of a time where a ranking member was angry over his efforts to try and increase union voting rates to 100%.


While this is not a new story out of the union waterhole, Rademacher brings out some critical elements in this piece that should still be of concern to educators who may not know what’s going on behind the union curtain.


In fact, these accounts are in his own words:


“There is a culture, and if it is not intentional it feels intentional, but there is a culture that actively discomforts and devalues members who disagree with any part of the established union narrative.”


“Young teachers are talked down to. Teachers with new ideas are treated like they just don’t understand the old ones. If they keep talking, they are shouted down and pushed aside. If they take their voices elsewhere then their integrity, honesty, motives, and histories are questioned.”


“I started feeling unwelcome in the union the day after I was named Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year and found that people had already begun to attack or demean me in some union circles.”


“If I sound hurt, it’s because it really did hurt.”


“It may not be apparent to those whose beliefs line up perfectly with the union narrative of teacher experience, but for those who don’t it is striking how often conversations, meetings and events assume opinions as known truth and move on (after taking a few potshots for cheap laughs at anyone who may think otherwise).”


“For many or most, the problem is not so direct. They’ve never been shouted down at a local meeting or demeaned publicly or privately. They just never showed up. It may be true that the Union represents a tremendous number of teachers, but it does not involve them. They pay their dues, but they don’t pay attention.”


“Union involvement, especially among new teachers and teachers of color, is at a critical low. I don’t think those groups are anti-union or afraid of the extra work, but are told to listen more than they’ve been asked to speak. The work I see in unions is more ‘how do we convince everyone we are right,’ and less, ‘what are we doing wrong that so many teachers aren’t here?’”


Rademacher is not alone. Many excellent teachers, just like him, are feeling dissatisfied with their unions. And that’s why teachers are seeking out alternatives like AAE.


AAE is proud to be the fastest growing, nonunion educators association in the nation. And as we continue to learn and grow, we will always remain true to the reason for which we were founded: to be a true voice for teachers.


If you or someone you know is looking for an alternate teachers association, visit us at to find out why AAE membership may be right for you!


Read the full post by Rademacher HERE.



Comments (2)Add Comment
2nd grade teacher
written by 2nd grade teacher, March 16, 2015

I have been a proud member of AAE for 19 years!
1st grade teacher
written by Jane Otto, March 01, 2015

I have been a proud member of AAE for 18 years!

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