Editorial : The Failure of the Pinellas County Teacher's Union


The Pinellas County Teacher's Union has failed to meet the threshold of 60% membership required by the State of Florida to be recognized for collective bargaining purposes.  After attending dozens of meetings in which the school board spoke, it's clear to any neutral observer as to why the union is ineffective, as they cater to special interests and by their own definition they do not represent what the State determined is the 60% majority of the teachers.  

Unions were best when they advocated for the collective interests of the members in which they served.  The Pinellas County Teacher's Union is beholden to a small, vocal activist faction of the teachers that put ideology over education, progressiveism over pay, and platitudes over performance.  Simply put, the Pinellas County Teacher's Union doesn't represent the 60% majority of teachers, and that's why they can't attract a 60% majority membership to be compliant with what would be necessary to take them as a serious party at the bargaining table.

  1. Lack of Focus:
    I've heard the president of the teachers union speak at over a dozen meetings on the topics of equity and inclusion.  At no point have I ever heard the teacher's union address the need for investment in tools and systems that would improve the performance of the district, which is a contributing factor to why the report that came out yesterday from US News & World Report shows ZERO Pinellas County schools ranked in the top 40 high schools in the State.  All teachers that I know want to teach because they're impacting the lives of children for the betterment of future generations.  None of the teachers I know care about the things the teacher's union opines about regarding equity.  As a community, we're interested in equality of opportunity, and the teachers union dreams of equity of outcomes.  Those are two separate things.  Lobby to get the teachers what they need.  Instead, you appeal to a small special interest that's more interested in indoctrination than education.  No wonder you fail.  
  2. Ineffectiveness:
    Another reason for the low membership could be a perception among teachers that the union is ineffective in achieving tangible results. If teachers do not witness the union making meaningful strides in negotiating better pay, working conditions, or addressing their concerns, they may question the utility of paying dues and investing their time in union activities.  In 2022/2023, the union spent 3/4 of the year negotiating a contract while the teachers worked without one.  They settled somewhere around a 3-4% increase.  Tidings Media was calling for a 7% teacher pay increase across the boards, less than the aggregate administrative increase the district fat cats took around 10%.  The teachers got screwed, but the union bosses got paid.  I suggest they read the book "Never Split the Difference" by Christopher Voss.  The teachers, at a minimum for what they're paying for, deserve professional representation at the negotiating table.  You had one job.  Stop talking about "The Bluest Eye" and start fighting for your membership.  This year, you agreed for a teachers raise that made the top tier of raises nearly inachievable for most of the teachers.  
  3. Distrust in Leadership:
    Instances of leadership conflicts, lack of transparency, or failure to represent all teachers' interests can erode trust in the union leadership. Teachers may hesitate to join or remain members if they feel disconnected from the decision-making processes or believe that their voices are not being heard within the union.  This union doesn't advocate for what the teachers need to teach.  A recent change in union leadership did nothing to change the future of the Union, as the recruiting efforts did little to reassure non-union teachers they'd be better off supporting a union that they don't think supports them (as evidenced by the lack of support for the union by teachers.)  This is pretty simple.  If the teachers believed in the union leadership, they'd enroll.  
  4. Political Polarization:
    In a politically divided climate, teachers may be wary of affiliating with any organization perceived as aligning with a particular political ideology. If the union is seen as overly partisan or advocating for agendas that do not resonate with all teachers, it can alienate potential members and hinder efforts to expand membership.  The Pinellas County Teacher's Union caters to the fringe element of radical left wing teachers who show up to advocate for liberal ideological issues and all but ignore what mainstream teachers really need, which is community support, better pay, less micro management, less outcome based testing performance measurements, and better resources.  How come you don't see any non-political union teachers show up to school board meetings?  They're likely grading papers, planning lessons, and navigating the labarynth of how to live within a system that has become politicized when all they want to do is teach kids and get paid a fair wage.  The Pinellas County Teachers Union spends almost zero time fighting for the things that would cause retention and recruiting success, but at least we have graphic sex in Pinellas County School elementary libraries.  The union often takes an adversarial and combative vs. collaborative public position towards some school board members who then later are tasked with approving union contract requests. It's an odd posture for negotiating parties to take, but the school board members are paid professionals who seldom publicly respond to the assertions and seemingly partisan attacks that emanate from the union representatives.  
  5. Alternative Support Networks:
    Some teachers may find alternative support networks or professional development opportunities outside of the union that better suit their needs. This could include online communities, mentorship programs, or specialized training initiatives that offer more targeted resources and networking opportunities than what the union provides.  The majority of teachers are clearly not drawn to a union whose primary advocacy is ideological.  Pinellas County overall is 1/3 Democrat, 1/3 Republican, and 1/3 Independent.  Pinellas County Teachers are 100% pro-kid.  The union doesn't well represent the interests of the community, the kids, or the majority of the teachers.  
  6. Generational Differences:
    There may be generational differences in attitudes towards unions, with younger teachers less inclined to join traditional labor organizations. Young educators may prioritize different factors in their careers and may not see union membership as essential for achieving their professional goals.  Paying a union boss a healthy percentage of their paychecks in exchange for the union negotiated paltry raises may not seem like an "equitable" arrangement.  

The Pinellas County Teacher's Union fails to meet the State level mandate of 60% membership for recognition of collective bargaining.  Regardless of the union boss pressure and scare tactics campaign they've deployed to try and boost their membership ranks, educated teachers vote with their checkbooks.

Tidings Media is 100% pro teacher.  We think they should be paid more, treated better, and equipped with what ever they need to support and educate kids. We have consistently advocated for larger teacher raises than their own union has. Enrollment is down 10% in Pinellas County Schools over the past few years, as parents continue to find alternative ways to escape the increasing influence of special interests.  Elimimating the loudest voice advocating against traditional education in Pinellas County is a step towards stabilizing our schools declining enrollment.  

The Pinellas Classroom Teacher's Association is no longer relevant.  The Pinellas County Teachers Association PCTA filed their application for registration February 7, 2024. By law, the application was sent to the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) in Tallahassee, with the Pinellas County School Administration. PCTA’s application showed less than 60% membership, but the law also provides a process for unions to petition PERC for recertification if they are below 60% membership.

Subscribe to Tidings Media for future updates on the union decertification process.  We are pro-kid and pro-teacher. 

🚨In related news, the Pinellas County School board voted unanimously on Tuesday February 13, 2024 to extend the contract of the Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools Kevin Hendrick for three years.  

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