Monday, February 21, 2011

Nothing Says Sacrifice Like A Union

For the past several days I have diligently kept up with the news coming out of Madison, Wisconsin regarding the bill that would reform collective bargaining and limit union's rights. It's fairly safe to say that the Capitol building is a hot bed of activity and Governor Walker has indeed started a firestorm that could potentially spread across the country to states that are experiencing similar fiscal shortcomings. Okay, fiscal disasters. Or bankruptcy if you will.

The main reason I've been so caught up in the union news is because like the teachers in Wisconsin, I am also a unionized public employee of my local school district. However, the similarity stops there. Because unlike the teachers in Wisconsin, I don't feel like I'm entitled to everything and anything. But then, I don't march to the beat of the union drum.

It wasn't my choice to become a union employee, per se. In my district, when you accept a job you have to pay union dues, period. It's kind of like the mafia, they are going to 'protect' your business and you are going to pay them a monthly fee for their service, whether you like it or not. Because if you don't, you end up with a few broken knees, or swimming with the fishes, waking up with a horse head in your bed or you just disappear.

Politically, I am not aligned with my union and I don't agree with their rhetoric and sentiment. I'd prefer merit raises versus step-increases and I think if you do a crappy job your employer should have the right to fire you. Oregon is a no-fault state (one of it's few merits, besides the mountains I live by) unless you are in a union. Then you can do a crappy job forever and continue to get your pay increase every year like clock-work. I believe in integrity, honesty and working hard for a paycheck. I don't believe I'm owed anything just because I'm in a taxpayer funded job nor is it my right to have cushy benefits and expect the state to fund my retirement.

That's why I have been so appalled while watching the events in Wisconsin unfold. I mean, exactly WHAT are these teachers doing? They say it's for the kids? Well, please explain to me how abandoning your classroom and shutting down schools is benefiting the children and their taxpaying parents that fund your salary. You say the state is taking away your rights. Your right to what? Receive less of the gravy train than you are currently receiving? Because let me tell you, if I received a quarter of the annual benefits you'll still receive under the new bill I'd consider myself in hog heaven.

I guess what's most appalling to me is what these teachers are sacrificing through their actions. By calling in 'sick' and accepting fake doctor's notes they are teaching kids it's okay to lie and deceive. They have sacrificed honesty, integrity and truth. And when you don't like what someone else believes in, do whatever is dishonorable in protest no matter what the cost. Especially when you feel it encroaches on your rights or entitlements. Because nothing should ever get in the way or be sacrificed for that. Nothing.


D. K. Stangeland said...

Preach it sista!! What a bunch of whiners.

Glynn said...

The true definition of sacrifice is to give something up - something important - expecting nothing personal in return. And you make the sacrifice for a greater good. That's not what we're seeing in Wisconsin. I'm not sure what it is we are seeing in Wisconsin, but it's not about sacrifice.

Helen said...

I have mixed feelings. I was a teacher for thirteen years. Nonunion. No collective bargaining. We took what we were offered, or we left. We made a LOT less than the Public School teachers.
I didn't mind the sacrifice though, because I taught in a Catholic School. I made the sacrifice to teach about Jesus Christ.
If I HAD ever had the opportunity to go on strike, though, it wouldn't have been for more money or benefits. It would have been so that I never have to make small talk with some stranger who says "Oh, you're so lucky! You only work six hours a day and get summers off, AND Christmas vacation, AND spring vacation...." Yep. So lucky. At school from seven until four..... Doing lesson plans and grading at home until eleven.... Spending my own money on materials because the office always lost my receipts. Yep. So lucky. Then I get to hear strangers tell me how I hardly work at all! Can it GET any better than that?
I know. Striking and collective bargaining will not change people's minds about those things. I'm just saying what was most frustrating to me.

katdish said...

More than anything, what disturbs me is what these teachers are teaching the kids by example--that it's okay to lie to get what you want. Anyone who has kids know they do as you do, not as you say.

Marni said...

What Kat said.

My hubs is union too. The same kind you are Annie, since his dues are jacked from his check and he has no option ;-)

This year, he took a $21,000 paycut. Yup, you read that right. His union has fought off the paycut for 3 years now, but when it was clear the economy was faltering (it took a while to reach Texas), then the union members conceded nothing could be done and allowed the pay cuts. The alternative was to watch civilian city employees take a layoff.

So many of our men and women in Blue (and the firefighters too!) took the cuts so that everyone could keep their jobs.

If anyone gets to preach sacrifice, it's Dallas Police and Firefighters. Wisconsin teachers can suck it.

A Joyful Noise said...

When my workplace became Unionised, I almost quit my job. My hubby convinced that I should not quit, as I was close to retirement. They did nothing for me except collect my dues from my pay check. I am so happy that God is not unionized. He freely gave us Jesus, and yes in return he desires that we give ourselves to him. I willing and freely want to do that.

D. K. Stangeland said...

An important note on WI:

The fight is not over collective bargaining for pay. They will still be able to do that. It is over pensions and health care costs. Most of the country pays 20% and higher for health care. In WI teachers pay 6%. The gov. wants to up that to 12% to help defray costs. Still way under the national average.

He also seeks to make union membership optional instead of mandatory.

Again: what a bunch of whiners!