July 24, 2003 Print

WEA suing over beginning salaries

Say it isn't so! Washington Education Association (WEA) officials plan to sue the legislature for giving pay increases to beginning teachers. This is the union that regularly hammers politicians for not paying beginning teachers enough money.

Union officials say legislators should just put more money in the payroll pot to be collectively bargained, without assigning the money to certain categories of teachers. But those same officials come back to the legislature every year and complain that certain categories of teachers need more money. It's a game.

Four years ago, the WEA lobbied for higher wages for beginning teachers. They got it. But in some districts, union negotiators traded away that increase for other things. Predictably, the WEA was back the next year lobbying for more money for beginning teachers, so this time, when legislators said "yes," they crafted language to force the salary increase to the intended recipients.

Why would union leaders sue for control of teacher salaries? First, they receive a percentage of teacher salaries that are collectively bargained. Second, the union's survival depends on continued conflict between teachers and management. Actually solving problems isn't good for the union's longevity.

And we wonder how come we can't fix what ails public education faster.

Click here to read Lynn's letter to the editor in the Bellingham Herald.