A teacher’s epiphany: Is Walker right about unions?

Perhaps Wisconsin’s Governor Walker and people like him are correct: unions need to be dismantled.  After just returning from my second Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly, I’ve come to realize that my union is indeed out of touch with reality.

I mean, we still follow the democratic process for goodness sake!  Walker would have been appalled at the way normal, every-day citizens (educators no less!) made their way to microphones to express their varying opinions on the multitude of amendments being made to our legislative platform.  Each one was allowed to speak his or her mind, all the while following the precise directives of Robert’s Rules.

Oh, and how furious Walker would have been when we managed to approve a budget that had been balanced without taking a single penny more out of any union member’s pockets!  I know the notion is absurd–balancing a budget without having public workers, such as teachers and support professionals, contributing a larger amount of their ridiculously large salaries–but that is just what the IEA did.  Shameful, yes, but also unfair, obviously poltically-motivated in some way, and–to be honest–downright un-American.

Equally disturbing was when over one thousand union members reached into their own pockets to contribute nearly nine thousand dollars to help their fellow public employees in Wisconsin stand up to Walker and his new laws that were created the new American way–with bullying and big money contributions from the private sector.

In fact, having public sector employees contribute money to help the slobs in Wisconsin and then collecting only nine thousand dollars only proves what everybody already knows about unions and their members: unions only care about supporting the status quo by helping the slovenly pit of unsightly, smelly citizens continue to peacefully fight for what they think is right.

And can we say greedy?  I mean nine thousand dollars?  That’s mere pocket change to a group of already overpaid, underworked teachers–they should be shelling out the big bucks if they are really as “concerned” as they claim to be.

It seems unions just can’t help themselves when it comes to proving those who are criticizing them correct.  I just thank the stars above that none of them were there to witness the propaganda videos that were shown throughout the Assembly.

At one point, a video was even shown that had Frank Sinatra (yes, the Frank Sinatra that has often been rumored to have mob connections) sitting with a group of school children singing “High Hopes.”

One doesn’t have to search too hard to discover the blatant message behind that video: Sinatra represented the fact that our union is nothing more than a mob using brute force to extradite money from the public in order to fund our lavish pensions and to do the bidding of our leaders.  You know, things like trying to find ways to fairly fund all schools, keep class sizes small, and look for ways to help teachers become more effective.

All that phony-baloney nonsense might fly in some other country, but this is America darn it!  We’re smarter than that.  We know that saying they want things to be “fair” is just another way for those union leaders to whine.  Small class sizes?  Why, so those teachers have it even easier with even less kids to teach?  Put away that wool you’re trying to pull over my eyes with that one.  And helping teachers become effective?  Ha!  Sorry, but everybody knows that the only way to do that is to take their collective bargaining rights away.  Haven’t they been paying attention to the overwhelming success this plan has had in Wisconsin?

Another video featured some great “teacher” showing off his skills in the classroom and talking about how dedicated he is.  In fact, this video is one of several already available on the Illinois Education Association’s brand new Facebook page called “Great Schools For Illinois.” Great public schools?  Great public teachers?  If you believe that, then I’ve got some bug-free Microsoft products to sell you.

It’s obvious the IEA is just trying to use real people in real situations to try to convince you that union members are something more than just a bunch of thugs.  Go ahead and watch the videos and invite every one of your friends to do the same.  I think you’ll all agree that these videos can’t hold a candle to Michelle Rhee discussing how she taped her students’ mouths shut, and that was just audio!

Yes, after spending two days watching unionized public workers peacefully debate, reach compromises, and conduct an election that went more smoothly than any I’ve ever witnessed, I definitely cannot agree more that unions are out of touch with America as it should be according to Walker and the many like him.  And it is for that exact reason that I will continue to faithfully pay my dues, do whatever I can to support my union and its leaders, and fight until the bitter end to make sure that unions play a part in American labor for as long as there is an America.

The IEA is only one perfect example of everything a union can and should be, and that is why Walker and so many like him are so afraid of us.  Whether they admit it or not, they know they have awoken a sleeping giant that knows how to do things the real American way.

Comments (14)

  1. Love the use of irony! Be grateful for your union, as awful as it sounds, because there are many teachers who do not have one.

    Monise

  2. Someone told me I was delusional to believe that we can stop Walker with just a minority. I took a deep breath and reminded him that all majority begins with the minority! Keep up the good work!!

  3. Lemme get this guy’s arguments straight, here.

    “Walker would have been appalled at the way normal, every-day citizens (educators no less!) made their way to microphones to express their varying opinions on the multitude of amendments being m…ade to our legislative platform.”
    - You do realize that WI senate Republicans held a 60 hour public session where anyone could voice their opinion on the matter, right? 60 hours. Continuously. Until everyone was heard.

    “Oh, and how furious Walker would have been when we managed to approve a budget that had been balanced without taking a single penny more out of any union member’s pockets!”
    - Wait, these people are bragging that they found other ways to balance a budget that didn’t involve them having to contribute any more of their own earnings? Who else lost in that deal? Without them contributing, that means money had to come from somewhere else. What else did they cut to get those funds? And, if they didn’t cut something, who else had to pay more because the teachers didn’t want to? This seems to hurt his argument way more than it helps.

    “… having public sector employees contribute money to help the slobs in Wisconsin…only proves what everybody already knows about unions and their members: unions only care about supporting the status quo…”
    - Actually, that’s exactly what it suggests, and that’s not a good thing for the image of public workers. The status quo had been teachers receiving unusually nice benefits. The author then brags that this money is going towards fighting the changes made by Walker. Therefore, the money is being used by union members to fight for the unusally nice benefits of other union members. Not exactly a factor in his favor that teachers care about others outside the union.

    Moral of the story: if you like public unions, don’t align yourself with this guy. He makes the case for the steps taken by Walker almost as well as the Republicans supporting Walker, but this guy doesn’t even realize he’s doing that.

    • “This guy” has a name, Mr. “Ness,” and to suggest that my arguments support Walker’s agenda and that people not “align” themselves with me doesn’t hold much validity when coming from someone using a pseudonym instead of his real name. Therefore, I’m not going to spend time defending my arguments against your twisted version of reality as seen through the eyes of Walker and those like him, “Elliot.” If, on the other hand, you’d like to have a valid discussion with me instead of anonymously attacking my viewpoints in order to try to paint me as just another unintelligent, overpaid, disgruntled public worker with nothing valid to offer to the decision-making process, please feel free to contact me at sosmtm2010@gmail.com. I’d be more than happy to have a cordial conversation with you about our disagreements. Thank you for your comment, and I look forward to hearing from you.

  4. Go ahead and watch the videos and invite every one of your friends to do the same. I think you’ll all agree that these videos can’t hold a candle to Michelle Rhee discussing how she taped her students’ mouths shut, and that was just audio!

    Love it. Thanks for an excellent piece.

  5. @Elliot Ness- The only thing that the people who support all these new laws and changes to duly negotiated contracts is that the public servants that you are putting down and saying deserve to have all their rights taken away from them…is that these public servants are your neighbors, and they are citizens of your state and they spend money and pay taxes and vote, amazingly just like you. They are not on welfare, some work 2 jobs in order to support their families. They work hard and they teach your children, police your streets and put out your fires and take care of your communities. Where would we be without them? Who is going to do these things? It is the people in public service who work for less money and benefits who do it…it isn’t your bankers, or politicians. It is your public employees. They are not slobs. However, it is questionable whether you and your ilk are not. They are not but you may be.

  6. Not to “nit pick” Mr. Ness but not EVERYONE was heard. There you are wrong.
    I’ll link you to one such person as proof.
    http://siftingandwinnowing.org/2011/02/16/an-idealistic-student-goes-to-the-capitol-to-be-heard-and-takes-home-a-bitter-civics-lesson/#more-1038
    So if what you assert has that error, could you perhaps consider you have others as well?

    Yes, you could. I’m sure.

    This “guy” seems reasonably able to speak to Walker’s ridiculously rushed, ramrodded legislative/govn’t work that, at least on the surface, appears to potentially able bite him on his petard. Look at the recalls alone, if not the 200,000.
    Those that look at issues differently cannot find in Walker anything but a rigid, unreasonable, uncompromising person that they have no recognition of a leader for “all the people” in-now leader of the state-causing such intense division, distrust and frankly as close to a governmental “what not to do” as it gets.You must recognize this? Those “in favor” of his positions, yourself, look to a leader who in his rigid zeal alienates them from neighbor -and for what-casting aspersions on things like health care and security for our elderly or teacher? That is rather hard to hold onto as a “point of view” of too much real integrity -you are even struggling with it. Especially when we examine what you are not saying.

    If Mr. Janotta makes the case that he sees appropriate and reasonable behavior in union interactions in his roles in Illinois we should that celebrate civil behavior with more of it.
    I certainly do.
    Hats off to him for finding it in him to share an email address with you and an opportunity for you to demonstrate an attempt at discussion and hearing one another.
    “This guy” turns out to be pretty much like all the really nice people I encounter in the working world trying to find a way to reasonableness.

  7. I left out a “be” before the able. And should have said 200,000 “people”.

  8. and put in an unnecessary “that.”

    Boy am I tired after work, sorry.

  9. It teachers are educators, where has liberty gone? One of the first things parents teach their children is that he/she who takes the first punch is wrong. After all reasoning of ideas comes tyranny. Either in the form of indoctrination or outright force.

    So teachers, if freedom ends some where between reason and a punch in the nose. Where does freedom end when it comes to taxation (forced on the people) and your rights to higher wages and pensions?

    Just a thought that reasonable men of freedom ask themselves. Or is freedom and liberty only given lip service in our government dictated schools these days?

  10. Now the pot is stirring.

    As this video addresses, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyxuUjgHkgs, I think you’re confusing the role of public unions versus that of private unions, which is something I feel most people have also done in regards to this whole adventure. By their very nature, public unions and private unions perform very different functions that in turn have very different collateral effects.

    Private unions, in theory, serve an important function as a remedy against abuse by those greedy corporations. However, private unions are only able to maintain an existence, and in turn provide adequate wages and benefits to its members, if it helps its corporation turn a profit. Thus, when the corporation does well, so does the private union.

    However, as we have seen with the $3.6 billion deficit in Wisconsin, this is not the case with public sector unions. Instead of negotiating with greedy corporate bosses who want to squeeze out every cent of profit, public unions negotiate with people they elect. Thus, public union members are presented the question of “are you going to vote for the guy who wants to keep your compensation at current levels, or even reduce it to lower levels, or the guy who wants to increase your compensation?” As we have seen with the protestors in Madison, these public union members will support those who want to, in the least, not reduce their overall compensation.

    Thus, instead of true collective bargaining, you have collusion. This collusion leads to increased costs, the funds for which must come from somewhere. Since the government receives its “profit” through taxes, it must either raise taxes or shift money away from other valuable public services in order to support the increasing compensation for public workers. Both increasing taxes and shifting funds can only go so far before the system completely breaks. Removing collective bargaining for public workers removes this problem entirely, and money can instead be spent on other valuable and necessary public services (or even tax breaks to serve as incentives for those who create jobs, but thats another argument entirely).

    Private unions must help their employers by not biting off the hand that feeds them in order to remain in existence, but public unions can simply grow the hand that feeds it so that it can continue to nibble off bits and pieces here and there. That hurts us all, teachers included.

  11. “You do realize that WI senate Republicans held a 60 hour public session where anyone could voice their opinion on the matter, right? 60 hours. Continuously. Until everyone was heard.”

    You failed Mr. Ness to apologize for this inaccurate statement.

    By changing the subject. Which is not really fair to the facts. And with that name I’m rather surprised by that.

    You are similarly mis-stating in the circular argument you are having with yourself here.

    I think increasing taxes on the wealthy might go a very long way. But that’s my take.
    I’m enjoying reading and watching the thousands and thousands of Wisconsin workers that may view things differently than you do. They have exceeded anything anyone expected and I suspect in better weather will astound us. But it is thrilling to learn that a host of “public services’ will be provided once there is no more collective bargaining-I oddly saw tax breaks to the rich as far less than a public service-but given all the services being slashed I’m sure this will be such a relief. You would be the only one I found saying that.

    I knew you would return, not address the issue of being heard, and not apologize for your mis-representation.And I count my intuition as still dependable.
    But at least you are trying to state something in a more civil way.
    So I’ll think about that as positive.

  12. This has been really disappointing so far. No counterargument? Really? You can’t think of anything to refute the stuff I’m posting, except for a blog from a TA? You must have some of your own arguments to support your viewpoint. Give it a shot.

    And what’s with all the harshness about the name? I feel like that has been your most vocal complaint with my postings. I just think it sounds cool. Rolls off the tongue well. If you don’t like that one, you can call me Bill Richardson, or Sallie May, or Carmen San Diego. Names aren’t important. Ideas are. Let’s hear some of yours.

    I’ll take another poke at the fire here. What do you think of this video?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kxc6kzH-uI&sns=fb

Post a new comment

Comment as a Guest, or Login:

*

displayed next to your comments.



If you have a website, link to it here.