A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How DOES one take away collective bargaining rights?

Watching the mess in Wisconsin from afar, I have been, as only a kid whose college tuition was partially paid for by union wages, appalled.

Why, oh why, did the millions of us in the same boat allow unions to be painted as evil to its own constituency? Now the governor of Wisconsin and his friends in the state senate are demanding that the Democratic lawmakers come home and bend over to allow them to steamroll the death of collective bargaining.

Wisconsin! Home of Robert LaFollette! Robert LaFollette, who was also (for most of his career in politics) a Republican. That sound you hear is him spinning in his grave.

The governor claims that breaking the unions of public employees (except for the police and fire unions, who are specifically exempted because they supported his election as governor, tit for tat) is absolutely necessary to right Wisconsin's financial ship.

Now look, I have nothing against expecting everyone-- EVERYONE-- connected to government in Wisconsin to take a pay cut or contribute more to pensions, and aspparently those represented by unions have stated they are willing to do this. But the Republican majority and the governor have stated that they will have all, or.... deadlock.

But I wonder if the sacrifices being demanded of workers been distributed evenly. Have the legislators agreed to contribute to their own pensions (which in most places are for LIFE even if you served for a few years) and pay for their health insurance (which are usually offered for full-time jobs, which is usually NOT the case for state legislatures).

I know that many people are jealous of people who still receive pensions, which exist today mainly in fairy tales outside of the public sector. I contribute to my own pension, which I will be fully vested in only after I have taught for thirty years at a full-time job. And I would be a chump to give it up, too, without some sort of a fight or a good reason why it is in my and my family's best interest to do so. Why is it when tycoons fight for the continuance of their generous tax-breaks, they're good capitalists, but when working people fight for a hard-won benefit, they are commies? What else has Governor Walker and his pals been up to, budget-wise? Let's see:
...For his first month in office, though, Walker's been focused on spending money through tax cuts. Two tax cuts he's already signed — along with one that's passed the Assembly — would add about $117 million to the state's budget problem over the next two years...

I imagine the governor of Wisconsin and his pals will get their way in the end. It then remains for the unions to make sure that they remind their members why it is important to re-certify the union each and every year after this, which will be required.

Oh, and Ohio is next.



At 2/23/11, 9:01 PM, Anonymous ExurbanMom said...

I really wish the teachers' unions did more marketing. I just got done running a (unsuccessful) levy campaign, and the refrain I heard from folks, especially big-time school supporters, was that they hated the union.

The union in our district does absolutely nothing to communicate with the public. They do no marketing, attend no public meetings, make no public statements unless it is regarding a contract negotiation. The public thinks of the union as an invisible enemy. People are quick to say "I love my child's teacher," but "I hate the union."

This is horribly frustrating to me. Unions have money for marketing, why don't they do it?

At 2/24/11, 8:31 AM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

I agree that unions should do a better job reaching out. While the UFT just put out a pretty good ad, I think we're being clobbered in the PR war with Bloomberg, due to our own ineptitude and lack of reaching out.

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