What is a union? According to the dictionary, it is “an organized group of workers who collectively use their strength to have a voice in their workplace. Through a union, workers have a right to impact wages, work hours, benefits, workplace health and safety, job training and other work-related issues.”
Must be those crazy people who stand out in the cold with picket signs just because they want more stuff, right? WRONG (although, there are people in unions that do that)! An education union is so much more!
Remember the first day of school? “Sign up for the union, protect your rights…only $400 a year.” Yikes! That is a lot of money. I will never get in trouble, I won’t need a lawyer. We have people who pay to negotiate our contracts. Why would I join a union?
MAYBE, possibly, those thoughts ran through my head at one time or another but luckily my husband, who was already teaching at the time, was a member and shook some sense into me and encouraged me to join my first year teaching. I have never regretted it and I find myself encouraging others to do the same!
I am sure all teacher unions are different, but mine offers discounts to members not only on insurance, home loans, credit cards, education, personal loans, savings, investment services, health care, legal and financial services, but also on travel, entertainment and shopping.
THESE are where the big savings come in. I just simply go to our member website and click on “click and save.” Boom! Discount for online shopping for home goods, apparel, jewelry, electronics and flowers. But my fave option? Eating and travel! Say I am heading out-of-town for a swim meet or travel basketball tournament (which I do 2-3 times a week November through March). I enter in the zip code of my destination and it shows me all the participating businesses in that area (the discounts are not just in your own town!!) You can always look for your hotel, too. There are hotels all over the country that participate in giving teacher’s a discounted rate! I have even personally called hotels and gave them my union id number and they have offered me the government rate! Whoot Whoot!
So, think twice before automatically rejecting the idea to join your state (or local) union because you aren’t sure “what’s in it for me?” I forgot to mention, our union has a “recruitment incentive” that offers $50 to anyone that refers a new member that joins!
Kristi Reinke, 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher in Minot, North Dakota