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Illinois Policy Institute
Unionized teachers in East Aurora demonstrate that unions are willing to put their own agendas above the wellbeing and education of students.

Government worker unions wield tremendous power, which they then leverage for personal gain even if it means harming the people they serve.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the context of teachers unions. When teacher unions flex their muscles, students and families are harmed the most.

A recent situation in East Aurora – where the union is preventing bus transportation for thousands of students – shows how teacher unions are willing to interfere with the everyday lives of their students in order to get what they want.

The East Aurora District 131 teachers union is standing in the way of a plan to provide busing for 3,000 additional students that would actually lower busing costs in the district.

In April 2017, the school district voted to approve buses for all students who live 1.5 miles or more from their schools. The vote meant bus transportation would be available to more than 3,000 additional students.

To most efficiently provide the additional busing, the school district is considering staggering start times at the schools. According to the district, staggering start times would lower three-year busing costs between $343,000 and $441,000.

It should seem like a win-win situation: More kids are bused, and the school district saves taxpayer money.

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But there’s a catch. The union representing teachers and staff disapprove of increased busing if it means changing school start times.

Like many school districts around the state, the teachers’ collective bargaining contract with the district governs school start and end times. Changing the contract means negotiations between the union and the school district. And that hamstrings school districts from making timely decisions about the school day.

Of course, the union in East Aurora could simply recognize that busing more students is in the students’ best interests and negotiate a quick addendum to the original contract addressing start times.

But it doesn’t sound like union president Gerry Mestek is willing to go the quick and painless route. Instead, he indicated that the negotiating process could take too long to put the expanded busing in place for next year.

In the meantime, those 3,000 students will not have bus transportation next year.

As the situation in East Aurora demonstrates, teacher unions don’t operate to push for the best interests of students. They operate to advance union priorities. And students and their families suffer for it.

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