According to the Freedom Foundation’s Jami Lund, the Seattle Education Association (SEA)—Seattle’s local teachers’ union—successfully engaged in a coordinated effort to counteract a budgetary decision made by Seattle’s elected School Board earlier this year. By doing so, the union proved that it is the will of the local teachers’ union—and not of voters—the matters in the Seattle School District.
Lund writes that the SEA “organized teachers to vote down the budgets of more than 40 schools to prevent the School Board from reducing overhead costs by cutting back on administrative positions, such as secretaries and bookkeepers.” These cuts were necessary, despite an increase in state and local funding, because one year ago “SEA union negotiators insisted on a collective-bargaining agreement that redirects [local] levy funds toward extra wages for employees.” Eventually, the district gave into the demands of union negotiators thereby “obligating itself to large pay increases above and beyond the salaries and benefits teachers already receive from state funds.”
Last year’s agreement breached an established funding model that pulled teachers’ wages from state fund sources “rather than diverting local funds meant to be used for additional educational or extracurricular programs.” Since subjecting the use of local levy funds to collective bargaining practices union officials have managed to implement a 27% boost in wages.
The union agreement now requires the Seattle School District to “divert an additional $2.8 million for an extra 2 percent wage increase this year.” Next year, the agreement forces the diversion of at least an additional $3.6 million.
And… that’s why the Seattle School District now has a budget problem which the School Board attempted to address by making cuts. Lund points out the irony of the situation: SEA has “created this funding problem and — by voting down individual school budgets — it has vetoed the solution.”
Given these types of self-interested tactics and power plays at the expense of children’s futures, is it any wonder that Americans’ are increasingly distrustful of teachers’ unions?