By Arthur Christopher Schaper
Politico, a left-leaning news aggregate source, cannot ignore the continued decline of the Modern Labor Movement, hastened by market forces in the private sector, prodded along by concerted grassroots effort, both of which are fighting back against collective bargaining units, which have bought politicians and tied up entire cities with sclerotic regulations, plus unsustainable pensions and benefits at the expense of future generations.
In December 2013, Stephanie Simon reported “Teachers unions face moment of truth”. Specifically documenting coordinated rallies in New York City and San Francisco, the piece pointed out that teachers union ranks are shrinking. Why? Teacher layoffs, certainly, have siphoned away support, body and money, but so have charter schools, a growing number of which resist unionization. One system of charters in the San Francisco, offer teachers the same pay and benefits and more freedom, removing any reason to organize. In addition to the rise (and rising success) of charter schools, Midwestern states enacted reforms which forced unions to recertify (Wisconsin) or reinstated individual employees right to not join a union in order to get a job (right-to-work in Michigan, following Indiana).
Teachers unions are getting a bad rap, as well, with one exposé after another revealing union leaders which protect the most incompetent or immoral (i.e. convicted sex offender Mark Berndt, Miramonte Elementary in Los Angeles) at the expense of new, passionate, and growing educators because of last-hired, first-fired contractual agreements.
In the Los Angeles area, I have spoken with individual teachers very critical of their unions, as they face larger class sizes with few if any salary increases. School Board members, either openly or otherwise, acknowledge that teachers unions are commanding less respect. Despite such plain negatives, Politico did report a slight membership increase in the American Federation of Teachers, but among retirees and part-time workers, and thus a measured decrease in union funds. The National Education Association has also cut staff, as well as overextending its line of credit.
Legal challenges are further chipping away at union power. Student-driven lawsuits are challenging teacher tenure laws, which have too often rewarded the worst at the expense of first-rate, yet new teachers because of arbitrary, politicized collective bargaining. Interestingly enough, the Politico report neglected to mention the grassroots nature of the tenure challenges, while also leaving out the recent lawsuits filed by California teachers, who resent forced membership and dues, all of which support causes and candidates without their individual support. Not only in the courtroom, but within union ranks new teachers are bumping against old-guard union leadership, which has prized power over pupils and the higher purpose of education.
More article at link: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/61249