Jason Plank is a veteran teacher with 24 years of experience; he teaches sixth-grade math and science in Pennsylvania. He first got his start in education while working with at-risk youth in public schools before transitioning to classroom instruction.
But Jason, like many AFFT members, is disillusioned with unions because of stark divide between unions’ promises and their lack of delivery on these promises, and the lack of transparency on where union dues go.
Unions often promise solidarity, speaking with a single and powerful voice, and representing teachers when lawsuits arise or when contract negotiations are set to expire. In Jason’s experience, the local union did not deliver on these lofty promises.
After joining AFFT, he immediately saw the large gap between the union’s benefits compared to benefits offered by teacher union alternative KEYTA. When Jason discussed the difference in liability insurance and other benefits with his colleagues, they were floored. Jason had “twice the coverage” with KEYTA than what the union offers teachers in his school district and for a lower price.
Jason noticed his union protects underperforming teachers, which indirectly punishes committed teachers like him whose students perform well academically. “I wish schools would be run like a Fortune 500 company,” he said, “I make [less money] than people who sit around and don’t do a whole lot of anything. It’s because of the union, it’s because of how long you’ve been here and how far up the scale you are.”
Jason was also concerned with the issue of transparency on where dues go after they’re taken out of a teacher’s paycheck.
Jason noted that unions could be a force for good, if they were transparent about where the dues were going to. “If they actually did what they said they were going to do, that would be great. If I knew that my dues were going to a good cause or a good purpose… I would sign up, but it doesn’t,” Jason said.
Unfortunately, he knows many teachers who “have no idea where their dues are going.”
Jason added, “I still wouldn’t want my money going towards somebody or into some organization that I didn’t believe in.”