hkellick: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges (Default)
[personal profile] hkellick
Bill Clinton, I think it was, once announced that his presidency would be the era of big government is over. He was wrong, of course. But it's a line that gets thrown out a great deal.

One could easily take the failed recall vote in Wisconsin as a sign that the Union Man just doesn't have the power he used to have. And I do think that's a good take home message, though I do feel the failed recall vote happened for more reasons than just that.

But when you look at the fiscal cliff we're driving off of, there is one universal truth that needs to be mentioned. We are spending far more money than we have. We all know what the politicians think about this, which is garbage. The GOP want to cut spending but not raise taxes. They want Austerity, but Austerity is destroying the European Economy and it's a reasonable argument that it could have the same effect here. The Democrats want to keep spending, but increase taxes on the very rich. This is utter nonsense as well, quite honestly.

What's missing from the debate is any semblance of subtlety, any hint that there are other options.

Which brings us to the unions, specifically the unions for the public service jobs: The Teachers Union, the FIremen Union, the Policemen Union, etc.

Let's be honest. Unions theoretically work to make things better for the people they represent, but Unions are fallible and over the years, Unions have made mistakes and decisions that added to the problems.

You could argue, as Scott Walker argued, that that's true in Wisconsin, that the civil servant unions have been part of the problem. I think he's right, to some extent. When things were good, I don't think there's any argument that we should be putting so many dollars into such and such a union's retirement fund, or that such and such a public sector jib needs this number of days off. But when things are bad, and they are, exactly what have the Unions done to say "We recognize that things are tough. Here, let's help you out."

Of course, the people that the unions represent are real people with real needs, financial and otherwise, but when things get bad we ALL need to shoulder the load, no matter who hires you. For most of us, when things get bad, we just consider ourselves lucky enough to keep our jobs, forget get additional leveraging power.

And that's really what was at the heart of Scott Walker's laws. The Unions still exist, but they're lives are just much closer to the rest of us. I read somewhere that in 2012, only 11% of workers in the United State belong to a union. The other 89% of us don't. When things get tough and we don't get the raise we hoped for, we don't strike. We don't walk out. We just thank gods we still have a job to call our own.

The union has been in decline for a long time. Maybe that's a bad thing. I'm sure some will say it is. But,..

When Walker instituted his rules, the Unions warned of of things going off track in Wisconsin, that taxes would need to be raised, etc. But that didn't happen, 16 months later. Walker found a way to tighten the budget and I guarantee you, others will follow.

And so I say, with no doubt I'm wrong, the End of the Era of the Big Union is over. Kaput. Gone.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 01:11 am (UTC)
nicki: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nicki
Nobody ever sees what the union has done to help, because it then isn't a fight and it isn't news.

I've voted for a contract that cuts my salary every year for the last four years because the economy sucks. The teachers teach more kids, my caseload goes up, we all work more hours and take on more responsibilities with less and less supports and often buy our own supplies. All that despite the narrative of how teachers are lazy SOBs who are sucking the soul out of students. And there are no Union Bosses, the people who run the union are the same people who teach the kids. I've personally known the president of my local union for 5 of the last six years because I worked with them or their spouse and the current union president is an elementary school teacher and they've all taught while doing their union job mostly in their "off" hours. And we don't get "days off.". We get "days we don't get paid for and can't work during if we wanted to." "Summer Vacation" is something the kids get. We get laid off for the summer.

What my union gets me right now is not-fired because some parent has their hair on fire because I am not going to move their precious darling to the honors history class because he wasn't high enough of the recommendation list to get a seat on his own merits. It gets one of my coworkers not-fired because our admin doesn't like her personally and another not-fired because she got a horrible infection that nearly killed her and did force her to miss 6 weeks of school.

And frankly the narrative about the terrible horrible selfish public unions run by Union Bosses is pretty much a load of crap. Our contracts are locally negotiated between the local union and the local administrators and the state and national bodies are made up of the local union members as well.

People have somehow gotten the idea that money magically appears from the ether to pay for stuff. I have bad news, if people want services, they have to pay for them and the money doesn't come from the ether, it comes from their pockets and it goes to people who are providing those services. And I'm a highly educated person who spent years of my life learning the complex skills and experience required to do my job, forgive me if I think I should be paid enough to afford to buy a not very large house and maintain my car properly.

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