Tabloid Treatment of UFT and PBA

Nov 14, 2016 by

Why are the teachers union and the police union treated so differently by much of the media?  Teachers and police officers are both proud of their unions and should be. They have first-hand understanding of what their members go through and they stand up for their professions. They fight vigorously for the their members and certainly need not apologize for that. Both in education and law-enforcement, controversies arise and they advocate for their members with a sentimental though  not blind  proclivity to side with their members.
Nothing wrong with that.  It is their moral duty and fiduciary responsibility.

But almost never do the media, especially the tabloids, begrudge that of the PBA ( nor should they), yet they nearly always fan the flames of unwarranted insinuations against teacher union members.


If test scores or graduation rates decline and school suspensions rise, they fault the teachers contract and union for enabling and shielding the incompetence and laziness of its members.  When street and subway crime skyrocket, they empathize how hard and thankless are the lives of the police. Rarely do they quarrel with any of the unique negotiated rights that police officers enjoy or critically refer to the PBA contract. Nor should they.

Again I emphasize that the police, by and large, do a superb job for New Yorkers and they richly deserve the esteem in which they are generally held. And their union is a force for good.The due process rights of UFT and PBA members should be extended, not eroded.

But the tabloids, not only in their editorials but also  their featured columnists, consider those rights impediments to quality  education when exercised by teacher union members but benign benefits when invoked by police officers.  When law enforcement breaks down on the subways or in communities, the tabloids plead for intensified resources to police, but when problems beset the schools, they call for abandonment of support.

There is no contradiction between a union serving its members’ interests and its being faithful to the people served by its members. Neither the dedication of their members nor the confidence of citizens in their work is damaged by the role of these unions. Just the opposite.

Comparing unions can be risky because it can play into the hands of anti-labor elements who will seek to create the illusion of division and profit by it.

I am in no way matching up the UFT and the PBA. or pitting one against the other. It’s not the fault of one if the other is seen in a different light. I am just pondering the contrast.  Will someone please explain the disparity in the general treatment of unions in the press?

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