Thursday, February 17, 2011

Teachers in Wisconsin should actually be teaching!

Well I guess educating students doesn't come first for many teachers in Wisconsin.

Kudos to Governor Scott Walker for having the balls to not only stand up to the teachers' union in Wisconsin, but the entire collective bargaining process. If you've been paying any attention to the news, Wisconsin is facing a $3.6 billion budget shortfall, and one of the measures Governor Walker is taking is requiring union workers to cover more of their own health care premiums and pension contributions, while stripping them of their collective bargaining rights. The union is furious because they feel like they are being left out in the cold.

The question still remains - How can you negotiate with a union when you have no money to negotiate with?

I'm sorry, but this is just another example of the outdated nature of unions. The teachers' union in Knox County definitely let me know where they stand after last year's decision to cut ~30 teaching positions, rather than give up their "entitled" yearly ~1% salary increase (for up to 2 years). Aren't unions supposed to be looking out for the whole, not just for select individuals?

I work in the private sector, and just like the LARGE majority of us in the private sector, my job/salary is primarily based on performance, NOT seniority/longevity. The NEA, in my opinion, is arguably the worst union of its kind. Shudder to think that teachers should actually be hired/promoted/fired based on job performance, rather than seniority.

Yes, teachers are underappreciated, and yes, they are underpaid. However, just because a union loses their collective bargaining rights doesn't automatically mean that they will lose half of their paycheck. In fact, I would argue that in some cases, dissolving union dues could increase a worker's net pay. I am not in favor of the NEA's ability to determine what my wife is worth as a teacher. That should be up to the individuals who cut her check every month. The NEA enables teachers to half-ass their job, just like every other unionized position. In the private sector, unsatisfactory work is unacceptable. I don't get to simply "punch my timecard." I'm expected to perform to a certain level, and that performance is constantly evaluated. However, if I'm unhappy with my pay (or the job), I can just get up and move on to another job where I'll be properly compensated.

Unions helped develop the backbone of this industrialized nation, and helped protect workers in an unregulated workplace. When unions were first established in this country, workers were just trying to make a living any way they could. Workplace environments were dangerous, indiviudals were overworked, and workers were not properly compensated. Unions helped establish specific workplace "standards", and many of those standards still exist (like OSHA). However, in the mid-late 20th century, unions began to promote laziness, a sense of entitlement, and a mediocre attitude (at best). Union workers are not encouraged to go above and beyond, because there is no incentive to do so; instead, mediocrity rules.

In a unionized workplace, an employer can't fire an employee without backlash from the union (even if the employer has cause). What we are left with is a group of individuals who know they are working inside a protective bubble, and there is no incentive for them to excel. Why bother being the best when there is no reward for it? As long as they do the bare minimum, they can't be touched, and yet, the union can continue to fight and negotiate for better pay/benefits, regardless of a worker's output.

I wish I could take credit for this quote, but this reader comment from the Knoxville News-Sentinel (regarding Tennessee Governor Bill Haslem's decision to make it more difficult for teachers to recieve tenure) says it all:

"BOY! Anything but pay for performance! Why, that'd be just like... well, just like every other job in the private sector, how could they? The audacity!"

My sentiments exactly.