Vinny Carbone had a long and fulfilling career as a teacher from Monroe, Connecticut. Over his 34-year career teaching in public schools, he spent 15 years teaching at the elementary level and 19 years teaching at the middle school level.
Having recently retired in June 2023, he’s seen a lot during his time as both a student and a teacher. From his time in high school, he recalls, “the teachers in Bridgeport, Connecticut going on strike and the horrible way the teachers who were arrested were treated. 1979 saw the beginning of binding arbitration. I believed in the union [and that] these actions would never happen again.”
When Vinny started teaching in 1989, he remembers that “teachers’ pay was increasing and respect for the profession was at its highest. There was money to spend on quality professional development.” But over time, that changed, and Vinny watched as the union spent more and more money on administrative costs, and less on representing teachers – like negotiating for better wages and protecting teachers’ pensions.
When Vinny later saw that the union “distributed [dues money] to causes [he] would not support nor see [their] connection to education”, he finally resigned his union membership. “I was frustrated at seeing the union as a pawn for every Democratic Party cause that I did not believe in… I addressed my concerns to my school’s administration, the superintendent, the local union representative, and the union. The last straw for me was a combination of racial issues and gender issues [that the union supported]. The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) publication seemed to contain articles representing only these causes. I stated to my leaders that the CEA has lost its vision.”
No longer a member of the union, Vinny was free to join an alternative association that provides liability insurance and legal resources for school employees and does not use dues money for political activities. For Vinny, the choice was simple to join the Association of American Educators (AAE) and have ‘peace of mind’. He would encourage aspiring teachers to consider all of their options for representation and to research how their dues money is spent and causes that the union supports.