Freedom vs Teacher’s Unions

It looks like the changes in Wisconsin that ended collective bargaining for the teacher’s unions there are working. One school district was headed for a $400,000 deficit, but with having teachers spend a little more on their health care and retirement, make them work 40 hours a week and teach 6 rather than 5 classes a day, they were able to reduce class sizes, and save over $1 million, turning their deficit into a surplus.

They see more savings as the union contract required them negotiating for health care only with a union owned health care company. Now they can look for the best price among competitors.

Isn’t freedom and free markets wonderful? ¬†And it benefits the kids, also.

School District surplus now there isn’t collective bargaining

 

16 thoughts on “Freedom vs Teacher’s Unions

  1. The greatest irony of the Wisconsin union fight is that those who want unions to maintain their benefits care little about the truly poor. The state workers making an average of $71k in compensation (source below) are not poor. They are solidly middle class. If there are two incomes in their family, they are upper middle class. Unions force up salaries and benefits above private worker salaries and cause fewer people to be hired. If there were no union, salaries and benefits would be lower but MORE people could be hired. More truly poor people would have jobs instead of being unemployed.

    The other irony is that the teachers and other employees care so little about their bosses, who are the taxpayers, and the students, who supposedly are their cause. Their only concern was and is their own benefits, which are funneled into the salaries of union bosses and campaign coffers of state politicians, so the politicians can raise their salaries more, so they can get more campaign money and on and on in an endless cycle of corruption. This is why FDR said collective bargaining should never be allowed among government employees because bargaining involves two sides in opposition arriving at a fair result. If both sides are bargaining for the same thing (higher compensation for public workers), you get a bankrupt state government, a drama that is playing out in many states right now.

    Source:

    http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_d89a1ae2-3a5a-11e0-a028-001cc4c002e0.html

  2. rameumptom: thanks for the article.

    Geoff B: I think you make a good point, but I don’t like how you phrased it. To say that “those who want unions…care little about the truly poor,” is an unfair statement—though to good rhetorical effect. Could it be that those who promote unions do so without the full knowledge and understanding that their actions hurt the very poor? Thus, they may be naive or ignorant—but nevertheless, well-meaning— “bleeding heart liberals,” and not deliberately malicious as you say. Same goes for how you phrased your criticism of the teachers. I do not doubt, of course, that there are some pro-unionites who are fully aware of their own greed and dishonesty.

  3. BrianJ, that is a decent point. I don’t think most of them deliberately “don’t care from the poor.” They care about their benefits and their ideology and don’t really think through the consequences of their actions. Most people are not evil or badly intentioned, and that is worth mentioning.

  4. I would say they are not intentionally thoughtless. I’d say that greed rules their decision making, and so they do not think it all the way through.
    So it is with many Utopian schemes of socialism. Instead of studying out the best way to lift all boats and bless all people, they seek out the format that makes them feel good, while focusing on class warfare, etc. Rich are evil and poor are all good. While this may sometimes be the case, it isn’t always the case.

    When we show that with a little sacrifice from teachers we can benefit the children so much more and keep the state from going bankrupt, while still allowing the teachers to have a better plan than most others have, I’d say we are headed in the right direction. Merit pay can increase the salaries of solid performers, while eliminating bad teachers.

    This encourages teachers (and others in unionized companies) to seek to be the best they can be. And in doing so, they improve the company they work for. With more success, the company (or state) can afford to pay higher wages to the high quality worker.

  5. How exactly does it benefit the kids to have even more overworked, underpaid teachers teaching their classes?

  6. Chris, if you have ever been to a public school you will notice the large number of administrators doing very little. This happens in all bureaucracies. If you cut pay for administrators while maintaining or even slightly increasing pay for teachers, you would have a much better school environment. Getting rid of collective bargaining and giving local school districts more control can allow this to happen.

  7. The only public school teachers (on average) who are anywhere close to underpaid are those in the first few years of their career, and that is a consequence of union imposed seniority and credentialism based pay scales.

    When you measure total compensation, you have to include the value of health and retirement benefits as well, which for most teachers are far above the private sector. And it should not be forgotten that most teachers only work about nine months of the year, so an adjustment for that has to be made as well.

  8. Teachers are not overworked or underpaid. Good teachers are vitally important and I am grateful that there is finally some movement toward correcting what has become a corrupt barrier to truly serving the children who should be what education is all about. Unfortunately, that is what teachers unions have become.

  9. It is worth mentioning that in most occupations compensation peaks at about age forty and never goes up after that (in real terms) unless you move into management. Seniority based wage increases are counterproductive after that, because there tends to be relatively little difference between the ability of someone with fifteen years of experience and someone with thirty five, at least if they are any good.

    Paying more just because someone has a masters degree (without regard to actual ability) is equally counterproductive. People can and do get masters degrees in many fields without any visible change in performance.

  10. “there tends to be relatively little difference between the ability of someone with fifteen years of experience and someone with thirty five”

    But is that true for teachers?

  11. All else equal, which do you think a principal would rather have, two teachers with ten years of experience, or one teacher with thirty? Because they are going to cost about the same amount.

    Of course, who the teacher is is going to make a bigger difference than that. There are a number of teachers who are merely putting time in, unfortunately, and it is a disgrace that a sub par teacher who has been watching the clock for decades is paid far more than an excellent teacher a few years in.

  12. #6: “If you cut pay for administrators while maintaining or even slightly increasing pay for teachers, you would have a much better school environment. Getting rid of collective bargaining and giving local school districts more control can allow this to happen.”

    How is this related to the OP? It appears the Wisconsin result was to increase the workload of the teachers (and thereby increase their productivity) with no impact on administration.

  13. The OP is not entirely factual. It provides the following critique…

    “Now the bill is law, and we have some very early evidence of how it is working. And for one beleaguered Wisconsin school district, it’s a godsend, not a disaster.”

    This is only partially true however. The same school district was essentially offered the same deal a few months ago, but this was rejected by the district…

    “In April, the school board rejected a proposal from the Kaukauna Education Association to extend the union’s contract and incorporate pension and healthcare concessions along with a wage freeze, a move the union projected could save the district about $1.8 million next year. “Basically the savings they’re getting are the savings that we offered them,” said Patrick Meyer, head of the negotiations committee for the union. “I think it’s pretty clear looking back on it that it really wasn’t about the money. If it was about the money, they would have taken our offer. Really I think what it’s about for them is the power. They want the ability to make every decision without having to worry about a contract.””

    The OP presents the case that it was the new law that saved the district. Truth was that the district could have saved the same savings by working with the unions, but decided not to. There should have been more effort made to find the actual truth, instead of promoting half truth without the effort.

  14. “All else equal, which do you think a principal would rather have, two teachers with ten years of experience, or one teacher with thirty? Because they are going to cost about the same amount.”

    What I think a principal would prefer is irrelevant to the question I asked: viz., Is it true that there is little difference between the ability of someone with fifteen years of experience and someone with thirty five? I hope that a principal would base the decision, in part, on data showing whether or not the more experienced teacher is, in fact, no better than the lesser experienced. I don’t have that data, so I’m not going to speculate or draw conclusions. I wondered if you have the data/studies.

    “it is a disgrace that a sub par teacher who has been watching the clock for decades is paid far more than an excellent teacher a few years in.”

    Certainly is a disgrace. What’s the solution?

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