Tuesday, May 27, 2008

School Board Fights Back Against Teachers Union

If things are going to get ugly, I'd rather they get ugly on both sides. This is an excellent story--great fun!

Grand Rapids School Board Fights Fire with Fire.
I have often wondered why school boards unilaterally disarm in the face of various job actions, like work-to-rule, slowdowns and no confidence votes. These things have little practical value, but they are very effective as stunts to get attention. The school board in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has apparently decided to grab hold of the fight-fire-with-fire-turnabout-is-fair-play-sauce-for-the-goose-goes-around-comes-around clich├ęs in its latest contract battle with the teachers' union. The board took a no confidence vote in Grand Rapids Education Association president Paul Helder.

"It's just disrespectful, not to me, I don't care about that," Helder said. "It's not my job to make them happy; they're not supposed to have confidence in me one way or the other. But it's disrespectful to the confidence the members put in me when they elected me. It's disrespectful to the work they do."

The board also decided to stop deducting and transferring member dues to the union. Until the dispute is settled, the union will have to collect its dues from the members individually.

Note to local Grand Rapids news: Send TV crews along with the union reps as they perform this task. I promise excellent footage.

The boldface two paragraphs up is mine. Isn't that a great move? I'm all for giving teachers what they're due, but I can't stand the blue collar tactics so many unions espouse. I'm happy to see the district stand up to the union on this one--especially the part about collecting the dues money. Personally, I think it's criminal that a governmental agency (school district) collects money from government employees (teachers) and gives that money to a non-governmental agency (the union).

(This is from the 5/27/08 Communique. If you click on the link after this week, you may instead need to go to the Communique archives by clicking that link in the left column.)


Fritz J. said...

In answer to the question of why school boards unilaterally disarm themselves, it is quite simple and only requires a modest understanding of human nature. In order to be a good manager a person has to be willing to make decisions that in many cases will anger some people. Any successful business manager has made many enemies because of decisions he was forced to make for the good of the company.

When it comes to school board members, most are unpaid volunteers who want to do what is right, but they are unprepared and unwilling to make decisions which will make enemies. Hence they frequently cave to demands rather than risk being disliked.

Anonymous said...

The very good reason you don't see much of this sort of backbone is that the ringleaders or ringleader will have to stand for re-election before too long and you can damned well bet the union will remember this incident.

Generally, getting elected to school board isn't all that remunerative so why duke it out with a candidate being run by union with the union's backing? So the folks like those who engineered this episode get knocked out to be replaced by union-backed candidates or they get along with the union.

Just another factor that shows how poorly adapted the public education system is to educating the public.

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