All over the country, union leaders are demanding that communities cough up extra cash to help “make teachers whole.” And unions around the country are testing the waters with teachers by asking teachers in budget stricken districts to vote “no confidence” in the community to send a message to taxpayers to cough up cash or else.
Note: This is an important update to a previous story about one county that kicked out it's public employees' union.
The “or else?”
In Chicago, the teachers strike was preceded, as it has been elsewhere, by a token “vote of no confidence” circulated by the Chicago Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers- also affectionally known as Darth Union.
I’m thinking where can I register a “vote of no confidence” in the union?
In districts all over the country unions are asking teachers to take “no confidence” votes in administrations already strapped by taxpayers, who in turn are already strapped by Obamanomics. The “no confidence” votes are meant to test teachers’ resolve to strike.
The latest district to feel this muscle tactic is Douglas County, Colorado where the local Board of Education kicked out Darth Union earlier this summer after contract negotiations broke down over the union’s inability to understand that no means no.
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“The Board of Education finds and declares that the Collective Bargaining Agreements between the District and the Unions,” said the district on July 3rd in its formal resolution dissolving the bonds between the union and the district, “which had been effective from July 1, 2011 through and including June 30, 2012, are now expired and of no legal effect whatsoever.”
The dissolution between the district and the union is unprecedented and sources close to the union tell me that unions are pensively watching, worried that other districts around Colorado and the country could take the same action as Douglas County has.
The head of Darth Union ( a.k.a. the American Federation of Teachers- AFT) was in Douglas County this week, coincidentally- ha!- while Obama, starring as Emperor Palpatine, was in town- coincidentally- double ha!
Parenthetically- Did we really see Emperor Palpatine pick his nose during a presidential debate last night? It’s nice to know that he’s still the same ole Obama, even during a debate.
Like other strike districts, in Douglas County Darth Union is circulating a “no-confidence” petition meant to scare the locals.
The locals will have none of it: “I am writing to inform you that this District will not any of the typical bullying and intimidation tactics that have been used by unions,” writes the district’s legal counsel. "If we become aware of any such tactics against our employees by union leaders soliciting petition signatures, we will use every legal means at our disposal to hold the union accountable.”
Wow. Nice concept: Holding unions accountable.
The main issue between the district and the union was the union’s insistence on being the sole bargaining agents for the teachers. The district, in the interest of transparency, wanted other professional teacher associations to be able to appear at the bargaining table.
“Exclusivity for a union with majority support is not a monopoly, it is democracy,” said Brenda Smith, local head of the AFL-CIO affiliated American Federation of Teachers according to Colorado Ed News. “It is order rather than chaos. It allows employees to select their representative freely, without coercion from the employer. It allows them to amplify their voice through collective action under our constitutionally protected right to freedom of association.”
Could we get a little more Orwellian please, Ms. Smith?
As cash-strapped municipalities deal with declining tax revenues and too-rosy assumptions made by administrators and union officials, teachers unions are now stamping their feet, holding their breath and mouthing the political equivalent of “La, la, la, I can’t hear you.”
And it’s not just in Douglas County, either, although they’ve dealt with it in the most sensible way by kicking the union out.
In Palm Beach County, the teachers union is demanding $70 million dollars in raises for teachers at a time when the district has to hire more new teachers just to comply with state-mandated classroom sizes.
“There must be a plan in place to have a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Brian Phillips, the chief negotiator for the Classroom Teachers Association. “Is the board really interested in putting teachers back where they need to be?”
Perhaps they are. But the more vital question is can taxpayers afford it?
“It isn’t a lack of wanting to,” said the districts’ negotiator Van Ludy, “It’s a lack of being able to.”
And not just that either. For years public education has been in crisis in this county. Test scores are falling in the U.S. compared to other nations. At the K-12 level we are graduating fewer students ready for college. Around 77 percent of students who take ACT test aren’t “college ready” according to ACT.
Yet in district after district, budgets are being busted by union benefits that have been bankrolled by union campaign contributions taken out of your tax dollars.
Since 1992, the American Federation of Teachers of has given $30 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, who essentially run the education bureaucracy in the country, while donating less than $300,000 to Republicans
That’s why in Democrat-controlled Chicago, teachers went on strike after the district offered them a whopping 16 percent raise over four years. The union demanded 30 percent.
Teachers in Chicago already make an average salary of $76,000, reports the CBS local news affiliate, while New York City teachers average $73,000.
“Working conditions are part of everyone’s job,” says Chicago Teachers Union attorney Robert Bloch told CBS2 Chicago, “we all think about working conditions.”
But apparently not test scores.
Only 21 percent of Chicago Public School 8th graders are proficient in reading and only 20 percent scored at grade level in mathematics, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Chicago lags the national public school average, which lags the international average of industrialized nations, 224 to 240 or 16 points on a 500 point scale. Even Washington DC’s disreputable school system out-performs Chicago in teaching math. The scores for the respective cities are tied for reading.
The solution to the school funding issue is not asking property values to take a hit on higher taxes. Higher taxes mean not just an increased tax bill, but lower overall property values in the long run.
The solution for teachers, just like everyone else on Main Street, is a vibrant economy that produces lots of tax revenue at lower rates.
We know that teachers in Chicago aren’t getting the job dome on reading and writing for students.
Perhaps they should brush up on economics too.
And Star Wars. It doesn’t end well for Darth Union.