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Letters to the Editor

The Sioux City Education Association (SCEA) requested a “base salary” increase to $37,012 for 2019-20. (Journal 2/5/19) The proposal seems too low. My teaching career began in Sioux City in 1964 at $4,850 per year. An internet “inflation calculator” indicates my contract then is equivalent to $39,300 today - more than the SCEA request, even accounting for a health insurance package my salary did not include. Hospital costs then, however, weren’t what they are now. For instance, our child in 1962 cost only $300, retired through $5-per-month installments to the hospital. By 1964, we still didn’t have clear title to our two-year-old. Much bigger was the school loan for Morningside College amounting to about $2,500 - roughly half my first year’s salary. Tuition costs then weren’t what they are now either. Beginning teachers today, absent a child, likely owe some frightful multiple of their starting annual contract.

My concern about the SCEA negotiation starting point is that my profession 55 years later is remuneratively regressing.

While the SCEA purports to be a “union,” as with other public employees it has been legislated out of a right to strike and valuable mediation considerations. What passes for a “union” today demeans concepts of unionism that spurred development of a vibrant middle class from the 1930s into the late 1980s when the Reagan administration began an attack that persists.

Disassembly of unions generally likely contributes to diminution of teacher salaries specifically - perhaps, even, of public education as an institution. The institution seems unlikely to improve until educational professionals reinvigorate a labor movement to better themselves and their students. - Dewey Sloan, Sioux City

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