September 3rd, 2012

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#616 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #41. Labors Last Day?

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

UPDATE Tues Sep 4: This long post, Just Above Sunset, entitled “Another Labored Day”, pretty well describes the tension existing on this Labor Day, Sep 3, 2012.

click on photos to enlarge them

An annual tradition at the Minnesota State Fair: the free photo calendar at the Education Minnesota booth.

Last Friday I was at a very stimulating conversation about the future of my teacher’s union: the one for whom I worked full-time for 27 years, representing public school teachers.

One of the group, a retired teacher from a metropolitan area suburb who still substitutes regularly in his old school district told of a conversation he had with a young teacher who thought unions and work rules like contracts were no longer relevant. The youngster had better use of his money than to pay union dues. Unions only got in the way.

His wise colleague, who had had a great part in making a decent contract and working conditions for the young teacher, thought a bit and responded.

“Everything looks great for you now”, he said. “Try to think out 20 years, when your career is well along, and one year things aren’t going quite so well. There’s no union any more, and no rights such as you now have under law and contract. Your Principal calls you in and says ‘ sorry, we don’t need you any more. We have somebody who’ll cost less and is fresher than you are’. And there you are, fired at a most vulnerable time in your own life. What will you think then?”

Our conversation continued.

There was no closure on how the young teacher responded. There didn’t have to be. It is a common scenario.

The siren song of “I/Me/Now” easily trumps “We/Long Term” today. I see this shortsighted individualism in many quarters, in many ways.

The campaign to demonize unions has been successful. It’s been going on for years. Newt Gingrich memorialized it in his 100 words GOPAC literature in 1996, but destruction by use of code words preceded him, and is very much alive and well today.

(Newt’s list actually lists 128 labeling words, 64 that are good words, 64 that are evil. One of the evil words is “unionized”.)

The same week of the conversation came a Republican Party mailer inveighing against the local Democratic candidate and made four false and demonizing assertions, two of which were as follows:
“SCHOOLS THAT SERVE TEACHER UNIONS FIRST – KIDS LAST
Putting teacher unions before kids by blocking common sense solutions to improve our children’s education.”
“FORCED UNIONIZATION
Mandating that workers and small businesses, even in-home child care providers, become union members and pay costly union dues.”

Labeling.

Saturday, I walked by a booth at the State Fair which claims to put children first, but whose main objective is destruction of any union rights. At the end of this month this bunch says it is going to roll out a well financed movie presumably advancing its claims.

I haven’t lost hope. I care a great deal especially since we have many grand kids in Minnesota public schools.

But it is the youthful employees who think they don’t need a union who’ll have to rethink their self-righteous arrogance. Failure to do so will have big consequences for them.

They are the one who’ll wonder, in 20 years, why they were fired, and why they had no recourse.

And nobody – not teachers, not administrators, not students, not parents, not taxpayers, not business – will benefit by the destruction of labor unions.

A conversation about the future, August 31, 2012