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Unions and Industry Responsibity

A thought.  Why do we assume that teacher’s unions have a responsibility for the state of eduction?  As one who is a believer in unions as a force for social good that seems like an odd question.  Of course they have a responsibility!  On the other hand do we hold the policemen’s union responsible for the state of crime in America?  Or the mineworkers union for the problems caused by coal?  Surely their voice on these matters has special interest given the work their members do, but do we expect them to justify their existence on the basis of the “industry’s” state of health?  Isn’t that management’s job.  Isn’t it precisely what the Mayoral control people promised–the buck stops here (with the Mayor). Isn’t it what the CEO’s job is all about?  But I shouldn’t be surprised–after all I did hear grumbling at the time of the decline of the US auto industry that perhaps it was the United Auto Workers fault.

In short, the history of the rise of trade unions, in contrast to early craft associations, was to protect workers with relatively little power over their workplace from the unfairness of the owners–in terms of wages, working conditons, and due process.  Such goals were, and remain, sufficient justification for unions and represent the universal desires, wishes and longings of all working people.  We still need such mutual protection

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5 Responses

  1. Well, Deb,…Exactly! The goal of any government organization is to serve its customers/constituents/clients. Managers and employees both are tied to this goal through a paycheck.

    So long as the union organizers are also employees, this subjection holds true. The constituent/client/student is served–sooner or later. I’m all for this type of union.

    But when the union becomes the master, when it is so large and rich and powerful that it can elect, appoint, and control management, then the bond with the constituent is broken.

    Teachers pay growth has met of exceeded GDP growth these past 40 years. The same cannot be said for 60% of those footing the bill.

    Who needs protected from whom here?

  2. I’d estimate that 50% of the NEA’s spending and efforts are either totally irrelevant to the interests of its members, or actually contrary to to members’ needs, desires, and hopes.

  3. Let’s look at the NEA website. Now, remember that 47% of the people who voted on school issues also voted for Mitt Romney.

    What will such a voter see and think when she goes to the NEA site?

    Today it’s “Tax Relief for the Middle Class Tell Congress to vote for an extension of middle class tax cuts.”

    Really? Tax cuts? But we know that tax cuts reduce revenue, and revenue reduction can only lead to cuts in services for someone. Since the NEA can’t yet know the outcome of the budget negotiations, why would they today claim that tax cuts for the middle class are good for teachers?

    Of course, that’s not their intent. They care not a whit for teachers. What they care for is their snug relationship with the power brokers in DC and the states.

    Every day, 2-5 of the main points NEA puts forth have little to nothing to do with education or the well-being of the teaching profession.

    Miraculously, the NEA points-of-the-week almost always match the wording coming out of the Whitehouse. This week included.

    What does the Whitehouse home page say today?

    “What Does $2000 Mean to You? If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, every American family’s taxes will automatically go up and people from all over America are writing in to say what $2000 means to middle class families.”
    “Pass the Middle-Class Tax Cuts Now”

    What a coincidence that the main thing on the minds of the NEA is not the thousands of school levies which didn’t pass; isn’t the art and music teachers being laid off, isn’t the pay-to-play being implemented, isn’t the cost of gasoline (increased cost to a teacher since 2008 ~$1000/year); isn’t any of the very real effects being faced by teachers this year.

    If you believe in such coincidences, that is.

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