Factors that affect union participation by teachers

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Wood, Denise
This study investigated factors that encouraged teachers to participate or discouraged them from participating in their union. Surveys were distributed to teachers in School District 68, and 144 surveys were returned (response rate 18.3%). Survey respondents indicated ways and to what degree that they participated both formally and informally, and responded to open-ended questions about the factors that motivated their level of participation. Open-ended responses were grouped by theme and frequencies were tallied. Three focus group interviews were conducted with high level participants, medium level participants, and low level participants. Focus group interviews were compared to survey results. Lack of time was cited as the main reason that teachers did not participate formally in their union. The predominant factors that kept teachers from participating informally were a lack of knowledge, or disagreeing with union advice. High level participants generally reported more positive factors. Certain groups of teachers appeared to be more disengaged than others, and it may be useful to consider targeting these groups separately in efforts to make connections with them. Teachers are supportive of professional development opportunities provided by their union. This avenue provides a promising way to engage more teachers. The majority of teachers in this study reported a desire to be supportive of their union, and a willingness to become involved if an issue was important enough.
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