Effects of Teachers' Unions on Qualification-Specific and Incentive-Based Teacher Compensation

Kristine Lamm West and Elton Mykerezi
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Presented at National Council on Teacher Quality conference, "Help or Hindrance? The Impact of Teacher Roles, Rules and Rights on Teacher Quality," March 26, 2009

This study, which won first prize at the National Council on Teacher Quality's recent conference, used NCTQ's Teacher Roles, Rules and Rights database (TR3) and 1999-2000 School and Staffing Survey (SASS) data to evaluate the impact of unions on various elements of teacher compensation. The two complement each other well; TR3 is newer (the data is from 2006-2007) and more specific (including indicators such as salary schedules and teacher performance evaluation methods) but only includes America's 100 largest districts. SASS is much larger and designed to be representative on the state and national level, but is older and less specific. The authors' findings are intuitive, but interesting nonetheless. For example, the frequency of any type of performance pay scheme is the same for unionized (29 percent) and non-unionized (28 percent) districts. The incidence of output based performance schemes (those with at least one indicator based on student outcomes), however, is significantly lower in unionized (16 percent) than non-unionized (25 percent) districts. In fact, unionization of a district decreases the probability of a pay plan that rewards student outcomes by 81 percentage points. That number increases to 84 percentage points when the pay plan is based exclusively on student outcomes. The authors also discover that benefits (defined by SASS as district contributions to Social Security and other taxes, medical, dental, unemployment etc.) typically make up 25 percent of total salary and that states with strong cultures of unionization amongst all professions are more likely to have teachers' unions. All of this and more can be found here.

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