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Collective bargaining means merely a situation where there is a collective group of employees working within the same industry that enables the workers to talk or negotiate with the management or the employer. The primary function of the joint groups (also known as unions) is to bring negotiations between employers and employees on a more level playing field. Collective bargaining is also meant to make deals with the management that attend to a wide range of concerns arising from a given workplace. In recent times, public schools have integrated collective bargaining in their administration where teachers have formed unions. The main aim of this move was to take control over how public schools were being financed, operated and even staffed (Eberts & Stone, 1984). However, there have been debates over the role of these unions in making school reforms that would raise the achievements being made by the students. The argument has been that there is no clear or constructive role of the teachers union in developing or reforming education in public schools. On the other hand, these collective groups have pushed for reforms to change the public education sector for the better. Whether or not the unions play a role in education is a matter that has to be analyzed basing facts on what reforms the collective bargaining has developed.
Reform bargaining is a concept by the unions to change the structure, operations and the organization of the public schools. This concept is mainly focused on establishing agreements with the school management to cover all the concerns of the teachers. Examples of issues covered by reform bargaining include the wages, promotions, insurance, working conditions and other benefits for the teachers. With the aid of collective bargaining, teachers have been able to be represented to the management in an equal and fair manner since the unions formed to have a responsibility of doing so. Reform bargaining has been on the frontline in battling for education reforms termed as beneficial to both the teachers and the education for students. Through their unions, the teachers have been able to negotiate for better working conditions for them to also improve the education levels.
However, the realization of the actual reforms has not been achieved, and this is attributed to the concerns raised by various stakeholders in the education sector. According to some reports, there is a possibility that the unions created by the teachers are not entirely good for the students. This is true since the unions tend to put the interests of the teachers ahead of those of the students. The other issue affecting the realization of actual reforms is the fierce resistance to competition that the unions have. This is wholly a significant problem as it has in a great deal affected the quality of the teachers, the student achievements and the economic equity within schools. These issues have blocked the reform bargaining from having an impact in making the actual reforms to the education sector, and this is where the teacher's collective bargaining loses its ground (Barker, 2008).
Industrial unionism is best described as labor unions whose primary task was to establish methods for workers in the same industry to have more leverage in times of negotiations or strikes. This unionism contributes to the workers by developing solidarity and unity as the members of the unions come together for a common goal. The basic idea behind industrial unionism is to prevent workers of a company from entering into individual contracts with the employers. Individual agreements are often done a seal of silent conventionalism meaning that the employee will end up surrendering to the employer with their hands tied. The results of an individual contract are not good since it demoralizes efforts being made to encourage collectivity of labor. The unionism dramatically opposes any timely agreements between their members and the employers for the interest of the whole union.
Industrial Unionism is a significant proposer of collective bargaining and the establishment of contacts between the employers and the unions directly. Here, the unions are entirely responsible for representing the needs of the employers to the management and push forward for change to be implemented where required. This is the basis from which the unionization in public schools is established. The main idea for teacher's union is to operate like trade unions where contracts are negotiated collectively and through the unions. As the precursor to the unionization of public schools, industrial unionism has set the standards for other unions to follow in the quest to develop collective bargaining. Unions formed in public schools borrow almost every concept used by the industrial unions in pushing for reforms in the education sector.
Reform contracts can be best described as contracts that take interests of both the employers and the employees. One key feature of reform contacts is that the contracting process is collective meaning that there is the representation of both the management or employers and the workers. The other feature is that the contracts are continuous such that there is the establishment of stable and regular relationships between the employers and the employees. The negotiations in reform contracts address the contact itself and at the same time how it will be administrated. Unlike the industrial contracts, reform contracts involve a bargaining process that is dynamic and flexible since both parties have to take on a flexible attitude. Compared to industrial contracts, reform contracts create a platform for the development of partnerships between the employers and the employees. This is crucial when it comes to the implementation or administration of the contract as its effectiveness depends on the kind of partnership existing. In general, the essential features of reform contracts differ entirely with those of the industrial ones but it is important to note that both deals drive for the same goal (Pynes & Lafferty, 1993).
In conclusion, collective bargaining is being used by teachers in public schools as a way to pursue their reforms. This has changed many things including how negotiations take place between the management and the public school teachers. Concerning the teacher's perspectives, collective bargaining has been a pillar of their quest for reforms, and as far as they are concerned, that is the only way of getting what they want. However, concerns have been raised over the effect collective bargaining has had to the value and quality of educations. Arguments suggest that student achievement levels are adversely affected, and the quality of teachers has dropped. The primary issue here is that unions in public schools do not play any role in improving or bettering education for students. In the end, the question remaining is whether collective bargaining is of more good than harm to the education systems in public schools.
Barker, B. (2008). Collective bargaining in education: negotiating change in today's schools.
Eberts, R. W., & Stone, J. A. (1984). Unions and Public Schools: The Effect of Collective Bargaining on American Education. Lexington Books, DC Heath and Company, 125 Spring Street, Lexington, MA 02173.
Hannaway, J., & Rotherham, A. (2006). Collective bargaining in education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Pynes, J., & Lafferty, J. M. (1993). Local government labor relations: a guide for public administrators. Quorum Books.
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