Looming Supreme Court ruling against teachers unions will hurt Rochester and Monroe County schools

Looming Supreme Court ruling against teachers unions will hurt Rochester and Monroe County schools

Labor Day Parade, September 2015

As reported in today’s The New York Times  Union Setback Looms in Case Before Justices, the Supreme Court seems poised to deliver a severe blow to organized labor in a case brought by 10 California teachers.

The expected ruling will almost certainly hurt the ability of teachers unions to effectively bargain collectively. For unions and their supporters, the larger threat is that ” a decision in the plaintiffs’ favor would encourage many workers who are perfectly happy with the work of their unions to make the economically rational decision to opt out of paying for it.” That is, the California plaintiffs are seeking to reap the benefits of collective bargaining without paying their fair share of the cost.

Weakened teacher unions do not bode well for schools in Rochester and Monroe County.

In March 2014, in response to a D & C  Letter-to-the-Editor, I wrote (for the D & C  Make City Schools Better  blog) If unions are the problem, why do we have so many high performing schools in Monroe County?

There I drew a corollary between Monroe County’s nationally ranked schools and the strength of the New York State Union of Teachers.  The essay argued that “effective unions like the NYSUT have helped attract quality teachers who, year in and year out, are creating quality schools.”  By extension, difficulties faced by the RCSD are not union problems. Its teachers are in the same NYSUT — which helps create those nationally ranked Monroe County schools.

We don’t know yet know how the Supreme Court will rule–broadly or narrowly–or what will be the ramifications.  If the consequences are weakened teacher unions, as seems inevitable, schools and students will suffer.

What was true in 2014 about Monroe County public schools and the NYSUT is still true in 2016.

see also How do union teachers teach about unions? and Charter schools and jobs and Rochester should consider the Raleigh, NC county-wide school system

How do union teachers teach about unions?



About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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