I started teaching in the fall of 1977, and by the winter of 1978 I had become a union organizer. A law authorizing public employees to participate in collective bargaining had passed a few years earlier in the Florida legislature, and public educators were actively organizing themselves into unions.
Management was hostile toward our efforts. They asserted that unions would pit teacher against teacher, and teachers against management. They said collaboration was the key to improving our working conditions – not the adversarial relationships that are inherent in unions. They set up teacher advisory councils and said we didn’t need unions. They said we had input through the councils.
Management always uses these arguments to fight union organizers, which is why I wasn’t surprised they surfaced during the recent parent trigger debate in Florida. The parent trigger legislation is part of an effort by progressive Democrats to begin unionizing parents in school districts, and management is opposing their efforts. But it’s ironic that teachers unions are also opposing parent unions and using the same arguments management used against them in the 1970s.