The Unions proclaim teachers are "professionals" and want to be treated like other professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants and architects.
But if teachers are professionals, why are AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel calling for a National Summit on Labor-Management Relations?
I have always disliked the term "labor" when referring to a group of people- it diminishes their intellectual contribution. In the knowledge economy, very, very few jobs involve just manual labor.
Now in the steel, airlines and auto industries,the labor-management schism clearly delineates how those employees want to be treated. They are "labor" and the other side is "management."
Their relationship is confrontational and adversarial. And we see where that approach has taken the people employed in those industries. United Auto Workers membership has declined from 1.5 million in 1979 to 390,000 today.
Teachers and their Unions need to choose - are teachers "laborers" or "professionals?"
One is either a "professional" - distinguished by education, experience and paid according to ability and performance.
Or one is "labor" distinguished by union representation, undifferentiated compensation and postured as an adversary to "management" - management for teachers ultimately being the taxpaying public, I guess.
The Unions can't have it both ways - switching from one to the other when most convenient.
I hope teachers see themselves as the professionals they are and demand their Unions end the 20th century mindset of "Labor-Management Relations."
Background on the Teachers Unions:
THE AFT UNION: The American Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and represents 3,000 local affiliates nationwide, 43 state affiliates and 1.5 million members. It's tag line is "A Union Of Professionals."
THE NEA UNION: The National Education Association is the "national voice of more than 3.2 million public education employees." Tag line - Great Public Schools for Every Student.
Union Tag Line Mashup - "Professional Laborers in Great Schools"