The powerful teachers’ union has once again flexed its mighty muscle in the North Clackamas School District and ensured that its members will not settle for a pay freeze. In doing so, the union has caused the district to lay off or severely slash the hours of 60 teachers from elementary, middle, and high school levels.
This is a bold move by the union, but one that can be expected. The teachers’ union has one mission and one mission only. It is to ensure that its members receive more pay each year for less work. That’s it. Simple, clear, easy to understand. That is why class sizes will increase, student course offerings will decrease, and some very dedicated and excellent teachers will be fired.
Why are parents and students surprised that the union would take this stand? In order to complete its mission, and its only mission, it simply can not accept pay freezes for teaching staff. A pay freeze is a pay cut to the union. The cost of living goes up each year, according to the union, so if teachers take a pay freeze they have actually taken a pay cut, and pay cuts are not going to happen when the teachers’ union is in charge. Sure, you may have lost your job, your house, your car, whatever, but the teachers, who actually work with students for 172 days a year for over 5 hours of actual contact time, will get their raises so that a teacher with 16 years of experience credit with a Masters Degree and 45 additional hours of college credit will earn $68,113 dollars each year NOT INCLUDING the district contribution to PERS or the over $1,000 per month cost of health insurance. If you include those costs, teachers at the top of the district salary schedule are making over $90,000 per year for actually working with students for just over 5 hours a day for just over 170 days. That’s almost $100 an hour — so obviously a pay freeze is out of the question.
So, with the union, you simply fire the last hired. Seniority is everything to the teachers’ union. It doesn’t matter a whit to them if the fired teachers are among the very best educators in the district. They simply have not been paying union dues long enough to matter.