In the first place, unions as a general topic is a waste of space, effort and intellect. Unions were formed
originally because there was a need and they actually served a purpose.
The problem is that time has changed and so have the unions. Where so many things have gotten better,
unions have gone through the same conversion of every organization which is subject to corruption and lacks
the oversight from the members. Liberals make fun of the Constitution and Obama basically ignored the
separation of powers in the Constitution, however, this is exactly the problem that can develop in any
organization which handles money without the proper controls.
Every union has been corrupted in the same way, over time. Here's the issue, unions collect dues from the
members and promise services and representation. From an accounting perspective, this represents money
coming in which is almost uncontrolled unless the members have the capability to track the money and have the
desire to do so. The biggest issues in unions and money is that the leaders of the union often rise to
leadership positions because they have a personal agenda for advancement. As with everything, power
corrupts power so what happens is that the union leader is that they begin a process to shift more of the money
to their benefit and fail to manage the agreements made with the members.
One of the best possible federal laws would be an annual audit of union finances for release to the members
and the public. Over the years, there have been numerous examples of union leadership failing to operate in a
manner which provides for the benefit of the union members. Recently, another union has uncovered the
failure of the union to provide for the benefits promised as part of membership in the union and the associated
paying of dues. The funny part is that the union wants the taxpayer to correct the shortage in the pension
funds. Do you understand what is happening here?
The union leadership promised that the union would provide various benefits for the members, normally after
retirement, in the form of pensions and / or health insurance. In addition, the leadership will represent all of the
union members in labor negotiations with the business management. This is the general structure of a union -
very simple, put everyone in the same pool and make promises of benefits with increased compensation, where
everyone will receive the same without regard to who works harder and who doesn't work at all.
You are probably thinking that this is nothing but an opinion against unions and that would be correct but will
pinpoint the issue of Teacher Unions, but first, there are underlying issues that should be reviewed. The first
among these is the purpose of a union. Why would a business agree to work with a union? Because the union
has also made promises of good intentions and cooperation, which of course, were lies. Remember, union
leadership has their own agenda which is seldom openly discussed or admitted outside of the smoke filled back
This sounds a little conspiratorial and that is because it was meant to. Here is the political direction - unions
represent socialism in a capitalist environment. Unions offer to represent the members in the compensation
negotiations with the business. However, unions do not offer to negotiate compensation which is in direct
proportion to the work actually performed. In other words, if Fred has worked for the company 5 years and
generates 4 widgets per hour and Bill has worked for the company for 2 years and generates 5 widgets per
hour, Fred will be paid the same as Bill even though Bill generates 25% more than Fred. This is one of the
basic tenets of socialism, everyone is paid equally.
A union has no intention of doing what is best for the business, they are only interested in representing the
worker, without regard to the value to the business. If a union does what is best for the business then we would
never hear stories of workers that do nothing and still get paid, or workers that gather on their lunch hours,
drink beer and smoke marijuana and can't be fired. If a union does what is best for the business then the union
would be interested in developing and enhancing the union members, identifying those members that do not
perform up to expectation and provide encouragement for personal growth or providing the means to eliminate
his position for the betterment of everyone in the company.
One of the best examples of this failure is the multiple times that unions have failed to provide for the benefits
offered to the membership. It is estimated that every union financial position is undervalued and cannot
provide the benefits promised by the union. Most recently, the public sector union for the City of Detroit proved
that they were unable to provide pension payments at current levels because there was not enough money in
the pool. When the incoming dues stopped, it was discovered that the funds cannot operate without additional
dues, in other words, there was not enough money in the pool and no one had been told.
The previous comments have intended to provide the impression that unions do not work for the best interests
of everyone and that the leadership of the union is more interested in providing for their own interests and,
most important, unions represent socialism. There are a number of questions that should be considered
before simply dismissing these comments.
First, what is the purpose of public education? While this sounds like simple question, the point of the question
is to have everyone agree on the starting level. Consider the name of the funding, public education funding.
This would imply that the funding is to provide public education. What does public education mean to you?
The goal is to provide the youth of the country with an education from 1st grade through 12th grade, providing
the basis of an education that covers most areas of general knowledge. So, the taxpayer wants to end up with
every student educated as well as possible to provide a basis for the adult life and career. Please note, that in
the preceding description, there was no indication that the purpose of the funding is to provide jobs, it is to
provide students with an education, remember that.
Second, who is the greatest obstacle in the placement of a teacher review system? This system would include
comments from the students and track how the students have placed in the standardized testing against other
students across all cities, counties and states. As discussed earlier, if a union wants to work in conjunction with
the business (or the government) then the union will work to insure that the members of the union are providing
the highest level of benefit for the compensation and all members of the union are working at the highest level
possible. This would insure that the students are educated at the highest level and each student is motivated
to be his best. A teacher review system would identify the best teachers and provide a grading system which
could be used to provide variances in compensation based on quality instead of time on the job. A union that is
dedicated to what is best for the taxpayer (whom the teachers and the union work for) will be more interested in
keeping the teachers at the highest levels of performance because that is their only goal based on the purpose
of public education. While this would be a complex grading system, it would provide the school system
(taxpayer) with the means to retain the best teachers through better compensation for performance and
provide the means to eliminate those teachers that refuse to participate at the desired level. Think back, there
is a 'rubber room' function in New York City where teachers are being held because they can't teach in the
classrooms, for whatever reasons. We need unions that desire to keep the best and eliminate those that
refuse to be trained or developed.
Third: who is the greatest opponent to student selection of schools? Many school systems have developed the
means for the student and parents to select the desired school by using vouchers. Of course, the student and
parent will be responsible for the daily transporting but is that a small price to pay when the student will get a
better education? Whether we want to admit it or not, not all schools are the same even though it was intended
that all schools in the same district would be equal. The problem is that this does not happen. Perhaps the
busing of students in previous generations was not a bad idea. Imagine - a huge campus in the middle of the
district and all students were bused to this school. This would provide the means to insure that every student
would have the opportunity to get the same education, so then the quality would depend on the student not the
failings of the district or the administration. Teacher Unions don't want students to be able to choose because
then the union has the ability to give the better teachers jobs in the better schools. Imagine that, preferential
treatment in union leadership.
Fourth: who is the greatest opponent to charter schools? Once again, the greatest opponent to charter
schools are the Teacher Unions and the reason is simple, teachers in charter schools do not belong to the
teacher unions. Now this is understandable because charter schools are privately owned so the school can
refuse to support or deal with unions. Charter schools can actually pay a teacher based on results instead of
the negotiated contract with the union. All of this would be understandable if the results from charter schools
were below the results from the public schools, but that is not the case, on the average, charter school results
are superior to public schools and the simple question is WHY? If you give it some thought, it is not hard to
figure out, teachers in unions do not need to worry about the grade they will get at the end of the year because
their compensation is not dependent on a good grade.
Teacher Unions, like most unions, are worthless for the simple reasons that they do not provide positive
results. If the union wants to provide positive results, the union leadership should develop, in conjunction with
district leadership, a grading system that can be applied to all teachers. Basically there would be four
levels:top level which would indicate that the district has placed these people at the top, a second level which
would be acceptable results, the third level which would require the teacher to complete additional training and
the fourth level where the teacher can be fired. The point is that the union needs to protect standards of
performance instead of protecting those that are incapable to reaching the standards.
This is not only true in Teacher Unions, it is true for every public service union and all private industry union.
Surprising, this is also true of professional organizations like the AMA.