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Retirees: What does it mean to be a union member? Why it is important to stand together?

Comments: 25

It amazes me that Americans blame teachers, unions, administrators, public schools, curriculum, etc., for the fact that too many American students suffer from low reading and math scores . Today's teachers are the best educated and trained that America has ever produced. The AFT/NEA has provided public school teachers with outstanding training, teaching strategies, and opportunites to continually upgrade skills through numerous education courses. Don't expect students to be able to read and write proficiently, test them on their ability to use a mouse, joystick, and TV remote-as the screens get bigger so do their bodies-their brains smaller.

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Barbara Zaroff
YFT
Vista, CA

I am a retiree with45 years of union membership in New York City's UFT. With the support of my union brothers and sisters to get out the vote, I can continue to be a beneficial voice for education and for my union in the New York State Assembly, where I am currently a candidate for the 97th District.

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Myrna Kemnitz
United Federation of Teachers
Monroe, NY

We must stand together for we are under attack from greedy corporate investment interests! In Texas, our pensions (along with the state's Permanent School Fund) are being coveted by people the with the integrity of a tick. Retirees must fight to keep pensions for our current and future educators (as well as our police and firefighters!). Stay informed, remain vocal and spread the word!

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Janet McMillen
Texas Retired Teacher Assoc. state and local
Nevada, TX

Without my union benefits I would not have been able to retire and live the life I am living now. A retired union member is safer financially then the average retiree.

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Robyn Harland
UFT NYC
Newark, DE

Without my union benefits I would not have been able to retire and live the life I am living now. A retired union member is safer financially then the average retiree.

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Robyn Harland
UFT NYC
Newark, DE

Many people in the history of our country made great sacrifices so that unions could become the legitimate voice of the working people. There is not good reason NOT to join the union. Doctors have the AMA and lawyers have the ABA. Those are unions and no one questions their motives or actions. My father was a union member, I was a union member and recently, my daughter, a teacher, became a union member. It is a family tradition!

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Patricia Westhoven
Hobe Sound
Hobe Sound, FL

Whether retired or currently teaching it is more important than ever that teachers stand united in order to protect ourselves as well as the students that we teach or taught. Instead of trying to come up with the better test why don't states and teachers band together to find out why the states that rank the highest in the field of education manage to hold those top 10 spots. Has anyone besides me ever wondered how they do it? It's always the same ones at the top of the heap when states are rated from 1-50 as being the top education providers. So, how do they do it?

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Deborah Wood
Goose Creek Federation of Teachers
Baytown, TX

Being a union member means you are never alone. You have the strength of all the members behind you. Unions command respect that individuals cannot garner. Unions force the powers-that-be to sit up and take notice. Unions get results that one person could never achieve. Unions underscore what it means to say "You can count on me!"

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Jearline Epperson
NYS UFT
Hempstead, NY

United, teachers prepared for excellence are the best force possible for improving education. Worldwide, the nations with the strongest such unions, and the largest memberships, also have the best student achievement. That is what is possible once employment security issues are met. Finland is a prime example. Sadly, when unions are weak, struggling to protect members, the proper attention is never achieved for teacher/parent/student relationships. The excellence education demands is never achieved without united teachers.

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Bill Betzen
Alliance AFT
Dallas, TX

Union members in Wisconsin found out how important their union is when Scott Walker rolled out his union busting agenda which took away bargaining rights from all public employees (except for narrowly defined wage increases). There went seniority, shift and vacation selection, input into working conditions and patient care concerns, benefits negotiations, and just having a vehicle to resolve problems and promote fairness. People forget what their unions do for them (and for everyone) until they're gone.

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Sue Couillard
FNHP Local 5001
West Allis, WI

Without a union and the support that it brings teachers would be fired at will, we would recieve furlough days, we would be asked to work extended hours without compensation, pay would become arbitrary based on the whims of whatever, we would have to negotiate our own raises, healthcare and paid holidays. There would be nothing in place for professional development as it is for substitute teachers. The rigor of what is being asked of teachers already exceeds the amount of hours being paid for and local politicians are still asking us to give more. Without a union teachers would be made to endure an already strained situation.

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Willie Richard III
Chicago Teachers Union
Hazel Crest, IL

I am VERY concerned over continued cuts to Medicare; not only fees to doctors but to hospitals, etc. Doctors had already been refusing Medicare patients before this new healthcare legislation passed. With additional cuts, more doctors will opt out. Reducing services to the senior segment of the population in order to fund services to other segments is shameful. Civilized countries respect and protect their elders. This country does not!

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shirley frojmovich
UFT
Old Bridge, NJ

Simply stated, being a member of a union, as a retiree, is "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat" in this raging battle over health care insurance. I say victory because our fight is waged with a collective and effective force of unity, resolve and perseverence, all shielded with the knowledge of truth, effective reasoning and intelligent application of our political power. Without any organizational structure, such as the AFT or other unions, the working American family doesn't stand a chance against ruthless and greedy money-gobbling enterprises called "health insurance" and "pharmaceutical" giants.

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Ohannes Bezdikian
UFT
Holliswood, NY

It means there is an identity of purpose. It is important to stand together for several reasons: pride in your work and who you are; getting things accomplished that otherwise might very well not get done; standing against the powerful tide of anti-union forces that try to destroy unions under the guise of "reform." For those involved over many years, it is a source of pride to see many energetic new colleagues, anxious to carry the struggle forward, take up the mantle of trade unionism.

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Michael Shulman
Michael Shulman
Brooklyn, NY

While I am a current AFT member, I am a retiree from Sprinklerfitters Local 704 in Detroit, MI. I am proud of the fact I am a union retiree. I worked very hard to support my union and my union supported me. If it weren't for the union and the people of the union sticking together, I would not have had the opportunity to make a career change. I earned a good salary while working and was able to affort to change. I am now working in a career I love. WE have to stand together, because without support, the whole concept will come tumbling down. Thank you for this opportunity.

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Tom King
MIFT 2144
Washington, MI

As a retiree, I am still reaping the benefits that were negotiated while I was working (pension, Social Security, healthcare). I can stand with workers as they negotiate new contracts. I can work with my state federation to help interview and recommend candidates to both retirees and current workers. I can lobby my legislators on behalf of education issues as well as issues important to retirees. I can help keep retirees apprised of political issues and benefits available to them as union retirees. Solidarity forever. We are stronger united than we are as one.

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Val Jack
AFT-Oregon Retirees
St. Helens, OR

Teachers are more exhausted than ever before. The workday is 24/7 but the pay is not comparable to the pay of an executive. Testing children has become the fad of today. Children are no longer the focus of education. The focus is what state and federal administrations deem necessary for a child learn. Children are being herded into unnecessary classes their senior year. It appears that school administrators, teachers, and parents have no say in this matter. Where is accountability placed in situations where students waste a year sitting in unnecessary classes. Our union is our voice, standing together may bring a change to this problem.

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maggie camargo
aft
Harlingen, TX

As retirees, we must stand behind those still in the classroom and help keep their lives as simple as possible. Teachers are required to do more and more paperwork and test too many times, so they are prevented from encouraging students to be imaginative. We can't expect good results if all teachers have time to do is "teach to the test," so to speak. Accountability is important but must be scaled back to allow real teaching to take place. High school student subject tests for competency are crucial for graduation, but to test third-graders on standardized tests for promotion only is ludicrous. Tests are good to help assess levels of comprehension.

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Vivian Berner Silbiger
BTU/R 1975
Parkland, FL

It's of the utmost importance that retirees stand together as one large group with one XL voice. Retirees need to fight for themselves because the norm is that all organizations fight for active teachers only. We're absolutely on our own. To go without a cost of living raise since 2001 speaks volumes of the lack of support. The one time check we got a few years ago was better than nothing but still nothing. It was proposed to give retirees $500 last year as bad as the economy is. What a joke. They knew from the get go that it was illegal and would be turned down by the AG. It was like throwing a dog a bone. So ridiluous, so shameful, so sad.

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minnie chatham
retiree
Temple, TX

Being a union member means uniting to protect workers' rights to fair treatment and compensation by their employers. It isn't, as Randi Weingarten recently purported, about "working for professional standards and good teaching". That work is the responsibility of teachers, personally, and is also being aggressively pursued by our administrators and government. We don't pay as $60 per month, a dear price for any teacher, for more oversight. Rather, we participate in our union to combat anti-education budgets, promote pro-education candidates, and protect us from those who use their positions of power to degrade our dignity and professionalism.

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Marina Bean
Rio Rancho Public Schools
Albuquerque, NM

In the rush to test students and rate teachers and schools, we have forgotten a comment by Albert Einstein. "Not every thing that counts can be counted and not every thing that be counted, counts" We retirees are the voice of history in the AFT and State Federations. The newer teachers will miss the opportunities to to see the gleam of joy and understanding in the eyes of a student that the teacher has contacted. When will we realize that teaching is NOT running a factory. It is dealing with human beings in their infinite variety.

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jay H. Broad
9518R
Jericho, NY

That I have backing when I need a lawyer.. Stop giving money to schools for things they -don't need.and if we are hurting.. they can go without a raise! -hire teachers who are going to teach.. not have centers,and other stopping in. -give back aides to lower classes. -get rid of esol classes.. they can learn English. -Stop pampering the kids. -Use tough discipline... teach adiministrators how to use it. -teach teacher to use discipline. and more..

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judi sievers
cta
orlando, FL

Teachers are better prepared to teach to day than ever before. The testing of students has become a big business which I an certain costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year to prepare, give, and then score. This does not include the time and effort to review them when they come back to schools to see what can be improved. It comes to the point where every one is being pushed to one type of education or be considered a failure. Not every one is college material nor do they desire it.Instead education needs to be given back to the local community with less state and federal oversight. Schools do waste money by buying new texts too often.

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george smock
Detroit fed. Teachers
wyandotte, MI

For the past few years the USA has been taken over by corporate greed..many of the rights and benefits that unions won for their working members have now all but disappeared. For example many who work in reatil sales now work with no holidays or time off; many are forced into "part-time" work with no benfits such as health insurance.Greed caused the collapse of the economy and those who suffered most were the ones with the least..don't believe it work at a local food pantry and see who is coming for food aid. I am a retired union member & son of a life-long ILGWU member.

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Guy D'Angelo
UUP
Center Moriches, NY

Am dependent on the AFT to fight for my Windfall Elimination Provision moneys in social security.

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Janet Scott
StL
St. Louis, MO

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