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Thomas B. Fordham Institute Releases Study about Strength of Teacher Unions
posted by: Ruthie | October 31, 2012, 04:06 PM   

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now recently completed a study about the strength of teacher unions nationwide. The study ranked all 50 states according to the influence of their state-level unions and concludes that there is indeed a declining status of teacher unions across the country.

Critics of teacher unions have warned about forced union dues and the resistance to reform for years. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Fordham's president, commented that the study comes at a critical time in history. "This study sheds light on union behavior by measuring their strength, state by state, more comprehensively than any other analysis to date. It illuminates their power to hinder—or promote—education reform, on whether what occurred in Chicago could happen anywhere in the United States, and the myriad ways they seek to influence election outcomes and policy decisions."

Among the results, researchers determined that mandatory bargaining, or forced unionism, tilts the playing field in favor of stronger unions so that bargaining, while not essential to unions, is a factor affecting the union's strength in each state. Therefore, unsurprisingly, stronger unions are found in states where state laws force teachers to bargain. Thirty-two states require collective bargaining, fourteen states permit it, and five prohibit collective bargaining. Union penetration in states ranges from 35% to greater than 90%.

An interesting sidebar is that estimates suggest that under full right-to-work laws, teacher unions would collect only 1/6 of the union dues they currently collect.

Another important finding is that resources make a difference, meaning more money equates to more power. The number of members and correlating amount of dues affects the unions' strength through advocacy efforts, the capacity to support local affiliates, more representation at the ballot box, more calls and letters to state leaders, and more boots on the ground during rallies and campaigns.

The scope of bargaining matters as does the right (or not) to strike. Local unions use collective bargaining as a tool to protect their interests. Combined with ill-defined, timid, or absent state policies, collective bargaining is a formidable tool to negotiate contracts that serve their goals.

Finally, unions' influence may be decreasing at state capitols. From 2008-2011, proposed state legislation reflected union priorities. However, over the past two legislative cycles, there has been a shift so that legislation is far less in line with union positions.

Click here to read the full study.

What do you think about the findings in the study?
Comment below. 



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