Monday, June 11, 2012

Teachers' Unions Failing to Comprehend The Signs?

The June 5th Wisconsin Recall Election sent a chilling message to public sector workers' unions. Despite unions outspending $7 to $1 in an effort to recall Governor Scott Walker and elect Mayor Barrett to replace him, Governor Walker won the election by a remarkable percentage (7%).

According to several sources, some teachers' union members crossed the picket line and voted to keep Gov. Walker in office. A reported 38% of union families (not restricted to teachers' unions) voted in favor of Gov. Walker in the recall. The actual results of the election seemed contrary to media polling because many voters feared making public statements. They did not want to be overheard speaking to poll-takers outside of election sites. So, many either declined to comment or lied to the survey takers.

The results of the recall election, with Walker, his Lt Governor, and three of four recalled state senators beating the attempted recall, sent a bold message to unions. That message is that tax-payers will no longer be bullied by public sector unions. The whole country watched this one state-level election because of how vital that message is to the tax-paying citizens of  our country.

However, it seems the teacher's unions are blind to the signs. In Arizona, Jan Brewer signed HB 2622. Unions see this as a blow because the bill redirects education funds to voucher programs in areas where the schools are failing to meet the state standards. What this means to the unions is that, in those poorly performing schools, their class sizes could fall dramatically. That would decrease the unions' arguments for decreased class sizes and requirements for more teachers. More teachers will still be required. They will just be in Charter and Private schools. They won't be union teachers. That means fewer due-paying members. Unions don't want the tax-paying parents to have a choice in how their kids are raised. They want tax-payers to pay them to decide that for them.

In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels and the state legislators implemented a great school-choice program. The program includes charter schools and vouchers. It even includes an incentive for students to work hard and graduate early. A portion of the state taxes allocated per student go to those who graduate early to help defray the costs of college. For similar reasons regarding Arizona's HB2622, unions don't like that idea.

For more information on Indiana's, Arizona's, and other common sense education programs that work, please see my article from May 21, 2012.

Now, in Chicago, we have unions proposing things that have even the liberals in Chicago's City Hall raising their eyebrows and turning out their empty pockets asking "with what money?". The Chicago Teachers' Union has voted to strike.

The average public school teacher in Chicago is salaried at over $74k for 9 1/2 months' work. Starting pay, right out of college, for a Chicago Public School Teacher is over $55k. Their current retirement pension rate tops out at 75%. (Military tops out at 70%. Most military retirees are closer to 50% and very few qualify to remain in service the full 30 years of active service required). They want more. They also want smaller class sizes so they can justify tax-payers hiring more employees who will be forced to pay union dues.

Meanwhile, in one Chicago-area charter school, union thugs moved in and forced the teachers to vote in favor of unionizing the school. Since charter schools are public partnerships with private institutions, the school responded by announcing that it is shutting down rather than bend to the union. So, the union effectively shut down the private sector jobs linked to that school. In response, the CTU has filed suit against the school in an effort to force it to stay open, and force them to employ union teachers against their will.

One little bit of common sense that CTU members fail to realize is that, should they get rid of the unions, they could split the dues amounts, cost the tax-payers over $500k a year in doing so, and see a raise in net income by doing so. If they applied that raise in net income to their own version of a 410K plan, it would offset the burden on tax-payers for their pensions. It could further increase the overall pension benefit they receive (especially if it is a Roth-type of retirement plan). Or, if they really cared about educating  the kids, the over $1M paid by tax-payers to union dues per year could go to better facilities and materials. Instead, these so-called educators bend to their Marxist masters. They fall in lock-step to the beat of the socialist drum. Who suffers? The tax-payers and the students.

The CTU (and other public sector unions) also fail to realize that they don't work for the politicians and bureaucrats. They work for the tax-payers. They work for the property owners paying property taxes. They work for those who pay sales taxes (from their own pockets, not from welfare funds). People have had enough of their money being wasted. Do we need to put it into braille, have a reality TV show made about it, or put a sign written in poor English on their lawns for them to get it?

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