Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

What It’s Really About

Late last week Peter Henry at New Teacher Network called on his readers to disrupt our “Ten Worst Union-Protected Teachers” contest, in which the Center for Union Facts will offer the “winners” $10,000 to leave the classroom for good. Henry writes:

Wouldn’t it be fun if one of us could make up a profile of a teacher, create a story about someone fictional, and get it on their site? Nay, not only get it on their site, but get their story selected as one of the ten worst?

Henry then goes on to promise that he’ll share his prize money — $10,000 — if he is nominated as one of the worst union-protected teachers and wins.

Leaving aside the fact that our rules clearly state that we require objective verification of any person’s nomination before he or she will be named as a winner, it seems as if Henry has misunderstood the purpose of our contest. The reason we’re offering the money is that we want to call attention to how costly it can be to fire a bad union-protected teacher, as we’ve documented on

The point is not to bash teachers but to call attention to what teachers unions are perpetrating on public schools. Unions and their affiliates protect the policy of teacher tenure throughout the country (even in those states without traditional collective bargaining for teachers), and our original research uses documentation from school districts themselves that shows just how low the firing rates are for tenured teachers.

Far from being “anti-teacher,” we believe that good teachers are critical to quality education. In fact, if Henry’s description of himself as “a pretty decent educator” is true, it would be a shame for him to leave the classroom. There are all sorts of things our schools should be doing to get more “pretty decent educators” working — such as merit pay, something which teachers unions tend to obstruct, unfortunately — but in the meantime, we certainly don’t want to push good teachers out. Our issue is with the unions who protect bad teachers, not the teachers who are serving students well.

Categories: Teachers UnionsUncategorized