Great moments in union representation

posted at 2:57 pm on August 28, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Unemployment in North Clackamas, Oregon just went up, thanks to a teachers union that ignored the wishes of its membership.  North Clackamas School District faced a budget crunch and wanted the teachers to agree to a wage freeze in exchange for keeping everyone on staff.  The teachers agreed to it in a vote, but the union refused to go along.  Now the teachers are picketing — the union:

A group of teachers in the North Clackamas School District took the initiative Thursday, amid losing their jobs because of budget cuts, by gathering signatures in an effort to have their voices heard by their union.

The teachers, who gathered outside their union office, said they want a response from the union and put their demands in writing in the form of a petition.

Those speaking out said it shouldn’t have reached this point, and they would have accepted the district’s offer, favoring a wage freeze to save jobs.

“We took a poll in the spring and they got our opinion and the majority said wage freeze,” said Monica Whiteley, who was laid off. “So I would like them to look at the poll or honor it and have us look at the memo of understanding that is out there.”

The cuts could mean having as many as 45 kids in a classroom, designed to hold much less.  The lay-offs came with almost no notice, and the teachers wonder whether they will be able to pay their mortgages.  Yet the union’s response was that they had to consider what was best for the teachers and the children, both of whom come off as losers in this result.  Under what scenario is this better for anyone?  Even the union loses in both the near- and long-term, from loss of dues and from the likely revolt among the rank-and-file members.

This situation holds plenty of irony.  The unions claim that they speak for membership, but clearly in this situation they spoke for some other interests.  Now teachers have to gather signatures on a petition just to get the union to hear their concerns.  Unions supposedly exist to collectively bargain to address worker concerns, and gather petitions to convince workers to allow them to represent the workforce with management.

Sounds like union bosses tried bluffing with other people’s money, and got their bluff called.  North Clackamas teachers now have no real way of holding them accountable or deflecting the course of the negotiations, which is why they went to KATU in the first place.  And if Congress passes Card Check, all of this can be every worker’s nightmare across the US.

Update: Strike three for me today in screwing up names and places.  North Clackamas, not North Carolina, which is on the other side of the country.  I think I’ll keep my laptop shut for a while …


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Comment pages: 1 2

Is North Clackamas some town created by The Onion?

No — it’s like every other city and town across the country where teachers’ unions are in confrontation with everyone else.

My sister-in-law, who grew up in LA Chinatown, dared to cross a union strike line to work at the school she had attended as a child and at which she now taught. She knew the neighborhood — that if the kids weren’t in class, then they would either be home alone or a parent wouldn’t be at work — either an unsafe child situation, or an earnings catastrophe for lower income families of a sort her yuppie liberal peers could not (or chose not to) understand. So she opened her classroom and taught. As a result, the union thugs made things miserable for her for months. You’d be amazed at the petty things union teachers can do (like dividing your class’s passing line by crossing their class in the middle of yours). She and some other teachers held a t-shirt sale to earn money to build earthquake preparedness kits for their classrooms (a container with at least one day’s worth of food and blankets for an entire class) — and the union expropriated the funds and instead purchased a xerox machine for the union hall. She pays her dues, but really doesn’t agree with much the union does. Of course, she doesn’t think much of LAUSD either, so it’s a wash.

unclesmrgol on August 28, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Another disastrous leftover of Camelot: For AFL-CIO support, JFK agreed not to block unions from organizing public sector employees.

So how’s that working out?

Akzed on August 28, 2009 at 3:58 PM

CriticalUpdate on August 28, 2009 at 3:53 PM

In today’s economy you could find 100 people to do it for $10 an hour.

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 3:58 PM

ANd the auto unions, job pool. What a Fn Joke. Some unions do indeed put themselves out of business.

CriticalUpdate on August 28, 2009 at 3:59 PM

Capitalism without any restraints is simply a way to support the idea that everyone locked into labor deserves it.

That’s surely not real conservatism.

I’ve been attracted to more conservative thinking NOT because they want people to be poor, for gosh sakes.

That kind of thinking simply makes no sense.

AnninCA on August 28, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Woman, what in THE hell are you babbling about?

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 3:59 PM

Remember what reagan did with a public sector union? Yep, we need more of that….

jbh45 on August 28, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Woman, what in THE hell are you babbling about?
angryed on August 28, 2009 at 3:59 PM

((Ssshhhh…. don’t make eye contact with her…))

Akzed on August 28, 2009 at 4:01 PM

AnninCA on August 28, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Capitalism without any restraints is simply a way to support the idea that everyone locked into labor deserves it.

How is anyone “locked into labor” in this country. If you do not like you job, change it. If you do not have the skills to get a better job, improve them. If one allows themself to get “locked into labor” it is their fault. Take intitiative and make your (ina general sense) life better.

I’ve been attracted to more conservative thinking NOT because they want people to be poor, for gosh sakes.

A conservative beliefe is the equality of opportunity (not outcome). Create an environment that anyone who wants to succeed, can and reep the fruits of their labor.

Liberalisnm\Statism ends up keeping people poor. Take education. The vast mojority of the country has a implied school choice program that is based on wealth and income. The more money you have the more school choice you have available to you. Liberals defend this Status Quo (sans wanting more money from the wealthy to further fund schools, though there is no evidence that more money equals better results).

A conservative take (my take) is create education scholarships for all kids of student age. Parents can use this money to send their kids to the school of their choice. All schools would be private. Allowing more freedom for the school operate to educate, discipline, etc. the kids that attend. With this system, family financial status is less of an issue and kids would have more of equal opportunity of educational success.

WashJeff on August 28, 2009 at 4:02 PM

LOL, Ive had to flag traffic and if you have never done it please dont comment on it. It looks easy, but it is a royal PITA and is boring , dangerous, fatigues you, and people throw crap and yell at you all friggen day. Nobody wants that job except somebody who has never done it.

CriticalUpdate on August 28, 2009 at 3:53 PM

You beat me to it. You also have to keep very alert. On one job I worked on, my partner was an idiot. He couldn’t remember that color or make of the last car, that went through, so I had to make sure all traffic was cleared before letting my line proceed. It’s a mind numbing job, but not necessarily mindless. Great money for a me when I was college kid, but I do agree about the high wages.

As far a throwing things at you, the nicest thing I had thrown at me by a passing vehicle was a raincoat. I was stuck at my post during a storm and a passing motorist tossed it to me. I will never forget his act of kindness. A big THANK YOU to that person.

CBP on August 28, 2009 at 4:03 PM

I guess AnninCa is back to her dual personalities.
This is actually and unfortunately good news. Unions are becomming scarcer as the years go on.

FlyoverJ-HawkFan on August 28, 2009 at 4:03 PM

OK fine being a flagman isn’t the greatest work. It should still not pay $23 an hour for crying out loud. Lots of jobs suck that pay $8 and plenty of people still do them. That is my point. Because of unions there is an extra amount paid that need not be paid. And in the end it is paid by taxpayers.

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 4:06 PM

It looks easy, but it is a royal PITA and is boring , dangerous, fatigues you, and people throw crap and yell at you all friggen day. Nobody wants that job except somebody who has never done it.

So, what is the pay for being a soldier…oh…you were still talking about the sign flipper…..

BobMbx on August 28, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Spent quite a few years in the teacher’s union(NEA). Even then the Union was more interested in keeping it’s power than really working for the teachers. Time and time again, the Union urged voting in large pay and benefit packages full knowing that the teachers on the bottom of the seniority ladder would be laid off. Never once in those 25 plus years did I ever hear the Union shills bluntly tell the rank and file that this would happen–they didn’t even bother to tell the teachers that were most vulnerable. Not saying that some greedy teachers would not have voted for these raises anyway–but, looking back, I think many(possibly enough????) would have been willing to take less in exchange for keeping their fellows employed and keeping acceptable working conditions. Maybe not though, cannot truly say!! And.. the Union leadership got quietly wealthy themselves.

jeanie on August 28, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Only an idiot would think that a union represents them. The union represents the union. Their members are a necessary annoyance.

SKYFOX on August 28, 2009 at 4:15 PM

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 4:06 PM

Didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers, since I understand and probably agree with your point of view on unions. I’ve unloaded hay wagons and scraped manure on dairy farms as well for a lot less money. I’d rather work on a farm than hold a sign.

Can you imagine what we’d be paying for food if farms were unionized? Of course if they were, the small business owner, the farmer, would be paying his employees many times over what he is receiving. Actually, the farmers would be out of business.

CBP on August 28, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Why do unions sound like a communist microcosm?

Thanks for all the info.

Why are some industries more union-heavy and others not?

Mommypundit on August 28, 2009 at 4:22 PM

The NEA, in most places, has a little kicker ploy, usually voted in by a Democratic Legislature, called an Agency Shop.This means that even if you do not join the Union in that school district, you still have the quite substantial dues deducted from your pay check–you just have no vote because you are not a member and have no representation. I haven’t kept up since retirement but think that efforts to make this illegal have repeatedly fallen through since you are not, after all, forced to join, you have a choice. Most teachers ultimatly join because the Union provides them with legal representation with both the school district should you be challenged for any reason and with the parents et al. In today’s society, no teacher can afford to be without this. So…everyone joins sooner or later. Don’t ask me where the line between right and wrong lies in this because I’ve never been able to figure it out.

jeanie on August 28, 2009 at 4:32 PM

BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!

Eat it NEA leeches.

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 3:39 PM

What? Don’t be an idiot. The teachers voted for a pay cut so they could maintain educational quality and decent working conditions and stay within budget, and their “leaders” went against their clear intentions….but you attack the teachers? How are they all that different from constituents whose “leader” votes for Obamacare?

Lots of people are getting some education these past few months. These situations provide excellent opportunities to reach out to people.

funky chicken on August 28, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Not saying that some greedy teachers would not have voted for these raises anyway–but, looking back, I think many(possibly enough????) would have been willing to take less in exchange for keeping their fellows employed and keeping acceptable working conditions. Maybe not though, cannot truly say!! And.. the Union leadership got quietly wealthy themselves.

jeanie on August 28, 2009 at 4:09 PM

You know, I have to wonder how many teachers would take a $5,000 a year pay cut to have 5 fewer kids in each class…the difference between having 25 and 30 (or 30 vs 35) kids is huge in terms of the class environment

funky chicken on August 28, 2009 at 4:43 PM

Agree, I was on the board of a national veterans organization based in DC before I resigned in disgust.

Every tedious meeting was about wringing more money out of Washington. The staffers were regularly featured in photo-ops for Democrats, so Democrats could grow “we care about veterans”.

This was at the same time Democrats were doing everything possible to undermine President Bush and to lose the Gulf War.

Veterans organizations, IMOP, are about “benefits” and other tedious concerns, not about comradeship or bettering the country. It’s all about wringing every possible dollar out of Uncle Sugar. I have better things to do with my time.

NoDonkey on August 28, 2009 at 3:43 PM

I was getting mailers hitting me up for money but no surveys inquiring as to what my thoughts were concerning benefits, whether it was ease of access or obtaining.

When I left the service and began my college studies, there was not one veterans outreach group. I eventually found an outreach group but they were not geared towards someone with my goals, and there were a few of us. I got the feeling they were looking for those individuals who were “helpless” rather than trying to assist or guide those veterans who were more self reliant needing suggestions.

AASLT on August 28, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Create an environment that anyone who wants to succeed, can and reep the fruits of their labor.

WashJeff on August 28, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Plus, let people decide for themselves what success is for them.

exception on August 28, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Union Leaders are into for their benefit only! They only like you along as you are contributing and when times get tough, you’ll get a Pink Slip!

BigMike252 on August 28, 2009 at 5:08 PM

I’m glad those teacher lost their jobs. Perhaps they’ll lose their homes too. Serves them right those rotten union slime.

Jeff from WI on August 28, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Looks like time for the ‘management’ to join the unemployment line.

GarandFan on August 28, 2009 at 5:40 PM

funky chicken on August 28, 2009 at 4:43 PM

There is more too it than just class size. I taught High School Science Classes in S. Cal for 23 years. My Average Class size was 35. Never had any problems with student behavior or control. Yet across the hall you could walk into a English Class that was capped at 20 students and it was bedlam.
Yes smaller classes are nice but the ability of the teacher to properly manage their classrooms trumps all other factors.

Full disclosure: I taught in a large (3000+ students), urban, minority high school.

chemman on August 28, 2009 at 5:49 PM

funky chicken on August 28, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Boo hoo, cry me a river about the poor teacher. Here’s the deal with teachers. They work 180 days a year. They make $45K on average with benefits most of us could only dream of. That comes out to $250 per day or $31.25 an hour….and this assumes they work 8 hours which is hard to do when school starts at 9 and lets out at 3.

I have absolutely no patience for the perpetuation of the starving teacher myth.

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 5:58 PM

Full disclosure: I taught in a large (3000+ students), urban, minority high school.

chemman on August 28, 2009 at 5:49 PM

Yeah, that narrows it down to about 300 high schools…you are correct, it isn’t so much the number of students as how the students are managed…once they identify your weakness, like hyenas they tear you apart, piece by piece.

right2bright on August 28, 2009 at 5:58 PM

There is more too it than just class size

Class size is more of a determining factor in classroom management in the lower grades than high school. In the first three grades and kindergarten–smaller is always better. The little guys need individual attention and lots of it. Cannot be properly done in a class above 22 and even that is stretching it. The ideal here should be 18 to 20 in my opinion.

jeanie on August 28, 2009 at 6:04 PM

I blame Kennedy.

madmonkphotog on August 28, 2009 at 6:17 PM

LOL, Ive had to flag traffic and if you have never done it please dont comment on it. It looks easy, but it is a royal PITA and is boring , dangerous, fatigues you, and people throw crap and yell at you all friggen day. Nobody wants that job except somebody who has never done it.

CriticalUpdate on August 28, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Is this the job the requires two people, one at each end of construction project. – A job that can be replaced with two portable traffic lights and a timer. Kind of like the job a caboose rider does did.

Dasher on August 28, 2009 at 6:52 PM

Will the next Missouri Compromise be over unions?

whig33 on August 28, 2009 at 6:58 PM

IIRC, KXL 750AM, during a newsbreak in the Lars Larsen show, said that most or all of the fired North Clack teachers would be keeping their jobs.

Christien on August 28, 2009 at 7:13 PM

Clackamas/Carolina? Who cares.

When you think of unions, they are evil…EEEEVVVIIIILLLLLL!

Sapwolf on August 28, 2009 at 7:32 PM

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 5:58 PM

They voted to take a pay cut. Their union “leadership” screwed them. You seem to be struggling to understand the issue.

I don’t see any teachers crying that they are starving or bitching for a higher salary here….just employees getting screwed by their union.

funky chicken on August 28, 2009 at 7:45 PM

I hate unions – I used to date this dude and he was in some steelworkers’ union and all he did was lay off work every time he had a friggin headache (at least once a week) and still got paid IN FULL – unions are just like welfare…they create nothing but laziness

Ris4victory on August 28, 2009 at 3:14 PM

My husband used to belong to a steelworkers union. He now works for the county road department (yes, union.) He has been a union member his entire working life. He is the harderst working man I know. He has also flagged for hours at a time, dealing with idiots who refuse to slow down while road work is being done, which puts his life and the lives of his coworkers in jeopardy. He’s been yelled at for plowing the snow off of roads for people to get around to work (people who have never plowed before telling him he doesn’t know what he’s doing.) Unions don’t create lazy workers, some people are just lazy no matter what. Don’t paint every union worker with the same broad brush.

StephC on August 28, 2009 at 10:29 PM

Typical. The people in the hierarchy are either no longer teachers (on the national level), or have seniority so could care less about those on the bottom of the seniority ladder.

So they will bargain for higher wages, more insurance kick ins by the school board, even if newer teachers in the system lose their jobs. And of course, that means larger class sizes and that means less individual attention for the students (you know, those people that make schools/education possible in the first place?), and more problems with classroom control/discipline…and then that degrades the other kids’ education, then even the “good” kids start acting up and so on.

A job with no raise, or even a pay cut is better than no job at all. It doesn’t take a genius to realize how limited funding is now. Of course, it is the Libs/Democrats that run these unions but many of us are conservatives, and we don’t anything more than what is fair and on a par with other professionals with the same level of education or training. And I’ll be the first to admit that many teachers out there aren’t worth a damn…but, many of them aren’t union members anyway and a lot of them are in the private schools as well.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 28, 2009 at 11:36 PM

You want a real horror of a union story?

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill?currentPage=all

YehuditTX on August 28, 2009 at 11:53 PM

PS it’s a teacher’s union story.

YehuditTX on August 28, 2009 at 11:54 PM

I have absolutely no patience for the perpetuation of the starving teacher myth.

angryed on August 28, 2009 at 5:58 PM

Um, when I worked as a math teacher ($30K per year), I was putting in 90 hour weeks. Do you have any idea how long it takes to grade 120 assignments every day, plus prep time and other responsibilities?

Instead of joining the union, I purchased my liability insurance through an alternative professional organization. Took some flak (union rep tried to scare me into joining), but I stood firm.

SheofTwoMinds on August 29, 2009 at 2:38 AM

When will people learn that UNIONS only represent those RUNNING the union.

Not the actual worker who pays into the fund. The people making 6 figures and better to handle their $$$

ChalkPerson on August 29, 2009 at 10:22 AM

***
The Oregon economy never recovered from the loss of logging and related business losses caused by the “greenie” environmental agendas. The teachers would have less economic problems if logging was still big business.
***
The wood for construction, paper, firewood, etc. comes from other states and countries. But–THE SPOTTED OWLS ARE DOING GREAT! Possibly the unemployed teachers can go enjoy the view from the pristine forest–before wildfires burn it down.
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on August 29, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Update: Strike three for me today in screwing up names and places. North Clackamas, not North Carolina, which is on the other side of the country. I think I’ll keep my laptop shut for a while …

Ed: you must really be upset over all this Ted Kennedy coverage… Breathe deep… Breathe deep… Breathe deep… This too shall pass…

Khun Joe on August 30, 2009 at 12:46 AM

AASLT said “When I left the service and began my college studies, there was not one veterans outreach group.”

Back in my day, organizations like VFW and American Legion not only had no outreach, they turned their backs on us. We were drug-addled hippie draftees who didn’t fight in a REAL war, like THEY did!

So, no, I have no time for groups like that either.

friendlygrizzly on August 30, 2009 at 9:14 AM

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