As a former, retired, teacher union member whose father was a member of a company union, I don’t in the least feel hypocritical in opposing the actions of Wisconsin teachers. Bottom line is, they’re wrong, in the extreme.
When I began as a public school English teacher in the early 70′s in suburban Long Island, I had no intention of joining either the local or state unions. Even then, the state union was decidedly liberal and, in fact, there was a movement afoot to expunge the word, “union,” in favor of “association” in order to preserve a sense of teacher professionalism.
“Union” won out in that debate, not that it mattered since the umbrella organization, the National Education Association, the NEA, which partners with the American Federation of Teachers, the AFT, is a de facto union, with 3.2 million members.
In any event, during my first year I refused on principle to join the local but succumbed in my second after repeated interruptions of my class by an importuning union rep. As it turned out, I subsequently learned that the district administration, in conjunction with the union, frowned on those who didn’t join and if I hadn’t signed on I may not have had a job my third year.
With that as preface and introduction to the current education crisis in Madison, Wisconsin and elsewhere, it’s been more than disquieting to discover that I was at least in partial agreement with the greatest liberal icon in the history of liberal icons, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Not that FDR was opposed to unions or collective bargaining–far from it–but he knew the inherent dangers of public employees negotiating with governments via union representatives.
As he said, ”All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public-personnel management. The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations:” http://tiny.cc/pnwwf
Apparently, today’s public employee unions never got that message as to the “insurmountable limitations” and the impossibility of such situations. Nor can they seem to grasp FDR’s reminder that, in collective bargaining with governments, “The employer is the whole people,” meaning that, seated on the other side of the negotiating table, are not representatives of some greedy corporation but the American public.
Extrapolating from Roosevelt’s words, when public employee unions demonstrate and agitate and demand, they are demonstrating and agitating against “the whole people” and their demands are not being made against a mayor, governor, or president but rather against every taxpayer.
President Ronald Reagan fully grasped the danger of acceding even to his supporters, the members of PATCO union, in 1981. Likewise, President George W. Bush perceived the inherent dangers of allowing airport security personnel to unionize after 9/11. President Barack Hussein Obama, the former neighborhood organizer, has taken positions on the side of the radical leaders of the union chaos in Wisconsin, positions that would make Reagan, Bush–and FDR–cringe.
As someone who has been there, witnessed that, I differ, somewhat, with FDR.
I can attest to the need for teacher associations/unions when it comes to lawfully dealing as groups with school administrations in order to win living wages and the rights of any employee. I can attest to having witnessed both administrative, and union, abuses of those employees. Finally, I can attest to the fact that most teachers, once considered virtual low men and women on society’s salary and benefit pole, have caught up in spades and now far exceed the lot of most in the private sector.
In all equity, it’s time for some give-back by the public sector in the form of concessions to the private sector, namely, those who pay the freight. I don’t endorse an end to group representation nor to tenure without severe restrictions on administrators, who are also public employees. Historically and still today many tend to arbitrarily and unfairly exercise their power.
However, I could never support the ongoing hate tactics by teacher demonstrators in Madison and in other locales where Obamian-Alinskyite unionistas have exceeded all bounds of civility and civilized behavior.
How else but by sheer hate can anyone describe the documented threats against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? How else can we describe epithets in Columbus, Ohio such as, “The tea party is a bunch of d**k-sucking corporate butt-lickers who want to crush the working people of this country” or an attack in Denver, CO, on “a gay black tea party activist and entrepreneur who criticized teachers unions at a Capitol rally, [who] was told by white labor supporters to ‘get behind that fence where you belong?’ ” http://tiny.cc/hjjhh
Civil service and teacher unions have gone amok. They should be pre-empted from subjugating the public to their vicious venality and from bankrupting by force the only constituency still expected to obey the law, the taxpayers.