Number 1.

The teachers of Duluth would win about the same wages and salaries whether they had a union to represent them or not.

Explanation for Opinion number 1

Minnesota law determines the amount of money available to school districts and the local school boards have only the limited ability to set the local levy to the maximum allowed by state law or a little lower. Virtually all set it at the max and perhaps this is the only reason for the teacher's to have a union.

If a union forces a school board to spend more money than is available the District's only choice is to go into debt or cut programs. Going into debt will eventually lead to budget cuts only more severe cuts than if the District acted immediately.

Budget cuts would mean reduced staff so some union members would lose their jobs. Going into debt and delaying the inevitable will do the same thing only postponing the inevitable and making it worse once it occurred.

As in Duluth an aggressive or self pitying union can undermine local interest in passing excess levies which can be an additional source of revenue for negotiations. This may help undermine the current levy being offered in Duluth.

One thing that teacher's unions can do do increase money for public education is to intimidate as many school boards across the state as possible into agreeing to unsupportable contracts. The result of this is to cause great hardship and program cutting throughout the state's school districts. Then parents and School Boards petition the state legislature to improve the state education formula which thereby rewards the aggressive union actions. (Patty Rolf once beat me up after I made this claim at a the Minnesota School Boards Association Convention)

This is the origin of the description of local school district's as "black holes," something Jesse Ventura has popularized. One way to curb unions would be to take away their bargaining rights which were given to them in the 1970's. It is unlikely that in liberal Minnesota any legislature would seriously consider this. I too would oppose this even though I have endured the uneven playing field unions have in negotiations.

By the way. The typical teacher in Duluth pays about $500 in union dues every years. Most of this money leaves town to go to the national teachers unions whose employees are very well paid indeed. It has been estimated that there are about 5000 teachers union employees who make six figure salaries in the U.S. This helps explain why unions need such high dues from local members despite the questionable benefits they derive from their membership.