Working in a Non-Unionized Workplace

by Christina – Local 6

There probably isn’t much I can say about working at a non-unionized school that will surprise anyone. We’ve all experienced it—the inadequate compensation, the exploitation of our very natural desire to teach and help our students, the lack of job security. After six years working at a school where unpopularity with students was enough to endanger a teacher’s job, where a two year salary freeze significantly lowered my family’s standard of living, I was ready to leave the ESL industry.

Instead, I decided to give my chosen career one more chance and made a move to a unionized school. In my first months at this new job, I am making more money than I did after 6 years at my former school. I have a benefits package. There are clear and fair procedures that guide my employers in how they treat me and an infrastructure that protects me from unfair dismissal. These are real and tangible benefits that have changed my life for the better.

This is what a union did for me. My only regret is leaving my former school without organizing it.  I let management threats about job losses and shutting down the school dissuade me even though I knew these tactics were ubiquitous and unworthy. If you agree that a strong united voice will force the ESL industry to treat its teachers respectfully, and if you agree that fair compensation is a priority, don’t let empty threats intimidate you. Contact the ETEA and start the process.