Sunday, January 06, 2013

They're Luckier In Ohio

I pay over $1000/year to teachers unions, and get about 1/3 of it back because I'm not a union member!  Why do I have to pay anything at all?  Because California is a so-called fair share state, not a "right to work" state.  That 1/3 I get refunded each fall is my "agency fee rebate".  All that coerced union money is being spent on some lavish paychecks:
Dennis Van Roekel was paid $389,620 in fiscal year 2012 as president of the National Education Association (NEA), America’s largest labor union. Van Roekel was one of 14 NEA bosses paid more than $250,000 with dues taken from teachers in Ohio and other forced-unionism states as a condition of employment.

Based on union filings with the U.S. Department of Labor, 436 NEA employees were paid over $100,000 from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012. Full-time teachers across Ohio were forced to pay NEA $178 – in addition to $425 in Ohio Education Association (OEA) dues – during the 2011-2012 school year.

As current union contracts expire, Michigan’s new workplace freedom law will make Michigan the 24th state to protect the right of educators to choose whether they contribute to the following NEA paychecks...

Including the 14 NEA bosses listed above, 53 of the union’s staff and officers were paid in excess of $200,000 in the most recent fiscal year.
Fourteen officers make over a quarter of a million dollars a year. One-percenters.


maxutils said...

You pay the 2/3 because you benefit from the contract those 1%ers negotiated from you . . . go to a non-union private school, and you take an immediate pay cut much larger than the $700 bucks you paid. If you want to argue that those salaries are excessive, I agree-- but the union members themselves have the means to change that, if they would vote for candidates who saw those salaries as being excessive. But, by taking yourself out of the union, you don't get to have a voice in those elections, save complaining after the fact. When I was a union rep I consistently voted against the majority against doing stupid things . . . but my votes made third party candidates look relatively strong.

mmazenko said...

I agree with criticism of the NEA salaries - one of my pet peeves. Though I do concede that it is a large organization and you need to pay well for strong competitive leadership. I just don't want to support that large national organization - I support local collective bargaining and some state lobbying for education legislation. Of course, I don't have to be in the union in CO - though we are not "right to work state." Colorado does it right by leaving the issue up to individual industries. I don't think it should be a state law one way or the other.

However, I would assert that if a teacher is not in the union, he should not be able to use the same union contract. He should have to negotiate his own benefits, pay, conditions, etc. The problem is that teachers who opt out still benefit from all the conditions negotiated by unions.

Darren said...

I "benefit" from this compulsion? I don't think it's I who benefits.

You can't pick me up at home in your taxi, force me to ride with you around the city, and then say I got a "benefit" from you for which I should pay. I'm not a free rider, I'm a forced rider.

Math teacher? I'm worth a little more than a kindergarten teacher--but I get paid the same amount. Nice "benefit".

maxutils said...

you may be. form your own union.

Dean Baird said...

I didn't like living in the buckle of the Midwestern Bible Belt, so I moved from West Michigan to the best state in the union. I suppose I could have stuck around and complained about the proliferation of churches and such, but to what end?

You complain about California when they need math teachers in all those "right-to-work-for-less" states such as Ohio. And imagine the electoral the power you'd wield every four years!

Maybe you don't want to leave California. Fair enough. There's a high school half a mile from ours where you could teach math and never be pestered for union dues.

Of course, both your non-union options will require that you accept a cut in pay.

But can you really put a price on living your principles? Who would live in a place that didn't respect his cultural preferences for the privilege of paying money to an organization that worked in opposition to his politics?

Just strikes me as odd.

allen (in Michigan) said...

You pay the 2/3 because you benefit from the contract those 1%ers negotiated from you

So it's one of those benefits that's so compelling you have coerce people to pay for it. I guess that's understandable since the basis of all unions is coercion.

The problem is that teachers who opt out still benefit from all the conditions negotiated by unions.

Apparently, all the smarts those millions of dollars buys doesn't buy enough in the way of smarts to negotiate a contract which excludes teachers who prefer not to enjoy the manifold benefits of the contract.

Rather more likely though is that, unions, being built on coercion, reflexively pursue the policy that leaves as little scope of action to everyone from whom the union leadership expects to squeeze a buck.

Pleasantly enough, as Michigan recently demonstrated, the public's no longer being buried by the blizzard of union baloney. Private sector unions encompassed their own demise by demanding an excessive price for the labor they represented. It's extremely gratifying to see that public sector unions aren't exempt from the consequences of doing the same thing.

Darren said...

OR, Dean, I can look forward to a day when I can work at the job I want to *without* being extorted for money by a union. My list of possibilities goes beyond the self-serving list which you offered.

Dean Baird said...

Darren, you can teach math at Jesuit! What's stopping you? You'd be teaching math a stone's throw from where you teach math right now and would not be extorted by a union.

While you are surrounded by non-union math-teaching options, you instead elect to work in a union shop (which, coincidently pays higher salaries). Readers can make of that what they will.

You bristle at the accusation of being self-serving? The same Darren that voted against later school start time (despite medical evidence that favored it) because it troubled your personal child care routine for 18 months or so? You've stated as much on this very blog. Readers can make of that what they will, too.

maxutils said...

Allen, if I could benefit from the negotiations of a union without paying, I would opt out. It's the sane thing to do. So, I have to assume that most others would, too . . . the problem is, if most people opt out, the union loses it's bargaining power, as the district can now fill the job with lower priced employees. The one bit of leverage a union has is that it controls the workforce . . .if you don't grant that privilige, then you might as well not have them. And, Allen, I know that's how you lean -- Darren, I have long suggested the creation of a separate math/science union, or at the very least, a high school teachers' union . . . but, you do enjoy a higher wage than you would make at a non union school.

Ellen K said...

It's rather ironic that all these NEA union leaders are targeted for higher taxes. Worse is that union dues are transformed into campaign donations without polling the rank and file. Money that could be moved into retirement stipends, scholarships for teachers, daycare grants are instead spent on lobbyists and politicians.

Darren said...

Dean, I work where it's most convenient for me. This job pays more than Jesuit. If there weren't a union, I'd get to keep a thousand dollars a year more. Do you think the union does best at getting us high wages? You, who has crowed so much about your recent accomplishments, do you think the union is getting *you* the highest wage you could command?

The start-time argument--in which I was on the majority, mind you--is entirely unrelated to this discussion. Nice try-especially from a guy who often gets to school mere minutes before the bell rings :-) (Yes, I know you stay late, but if you're going to throw out the "self-serving" canard, I'll play.)

Oh look, over there, someone's saying something bad about Goodwin Liu!!! Go git 'em!

Darren said...

Max, I don't object to unions in principle. I said many times that I'd gladly be a member of my local teachers union because I believe in teamwork--but I won't be a member of the CTA and NEA, the unified dues structure of which requires either membership or non-membership in all three levels.

So the issue isn't whether or not a union gets me a higher wage. It's whether or not I should be compelled to join unions, and whether or not they advantage me. Some states (like Louisiana, I know of in particular) has both a teachers union and a non-union professional organization. The union truly represents its members because they are voluntary members--the union has to compete with APEL for members!

You can't argue that coercion is appropriate.... I'd be a member of an organization that I thought did me some good.

maxutils said...

darren, I'm absolutely positive that the union doesn't get you the best wages possible. But, they do get you more than you would make at Jesuit, a non-union school -- even when you take in to account the 1000 bucks they charge you. And the onlyu reason they can do that is because they must negotiate collectively. So yes . . .certain teachers might do better if they could negotiate separately -- but evidence shows that the wage paid to non union workers, on average, is less. Go ahead . . . bust the union. The scjhool board would be ecstatic as people, largely elementary school teachers who are the second income, srape for jobs at whatever is offered.

mmazenko said...

Max and Dean are right. No one is forcing you to work there. No one likes everything about their working conditions - I don't like the way the district allocated money for new water fountains. But that's not my decision. Maybe it will be later after I finish my administrative license. Point is I have a choice in my working conditions and whether I want to work there. That freedom is a great thing.

mmazenko said...

D., I think you've crossed your own line with a comment about Dean's work habits that you are apparently privy to.

You have scolded others for such words and removed comments. And I think you are better than that. You should remove that - and this - comment and move on.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Max, I understand the "free rider" problem but that's a problem for the union to solve. The solution, making what was formerly illegal the law of the land, has no place in what's ostensibly a free society regardless of the self-serving rationale you construct.

I'm of the opinion that the coercive nature of unions is why support for unions has collapsed. You can push the notion of some ill-defined justice as the reason for the existence of unions but sooner or later people, including unions members, are going to connect ever-rising prices with ever-rising wages and realize that the most direct beneficiary, and the engine of those rising wages, is the union.

That's why unions are no longer able to enact protective tariffs - the beneficiary is the union and everyone not in the union pays higher prices. Feel free to explain the benefit in that situation to people who aren't union members.

You can't because there isn't any benefit which is why you prefer to cling to rationalizations that worked for a long time. I'd suggest you try to develop the ability to accept the unacceptable because the collapse of support for unions isn't a fluke. Private sector unions are a shadow of their former self and they're never going to recover. Recent events make it clear that public sector unions aren't far behind.

Dean Baird said...

I'll admit I am amused by your interpretation of one satirical mention of my PAEMST honor as "crowed so much." RotLC media bias? I think so.

Other media outlets mentioning (or not mentioning) the award are not my doing or responsibility.

I keep my crowing to my own blogging, where no one needs to see it unless they choose to visit.

How much crowing is appropriate for an honor that is likely to be awarded to only one teacher at a school during that school's entire operational lifespan? None?

Just curious.

Darren said...

Dean, you don't do the butt-hurt thing very well.

Sometimes crowing is OK, but let's not pretend it isn't crowing. You didn't do it in this post, but you did in the Liu post, so it's fair game.

maxutils said...

Allen, I agree that it would be better if unions could sell themselves. But, human nature and the free rider principle make that virtually impossible.

Darren said...

Not "free rider". "Forced rider".

maxutils said...

Really Darren? It's forced rider BECAUSE if people weren't forced, the free rider principle would take effect, and the union would be powerless. And then, you'd be making Jesuit money. And wouldn't have a pension.

Darren said...

OR I'd join some other union that I thought represented my interests. OR I'd negotiate my own pay, especially since I teach in a field that could tolerate that.

There are many options, not just the either-or that you offer.

Dean Baird said...

Oh Darren, when have you limited yourself to "fair game"? Not in this thread. I conceded the single satirical mention--phrased so as to paint me as an evil soldier in the Obama Army. You counted that as crowing? Really?

But please help me navigate the minefield you've locked yourself into:

You work where you do because of the high salary it allows you to earn. And you complain about the union dues that make that high salary possible. You have the option of working at a non-union shop a stone's throw from your current work site. But it's a non-union shop, so the salary is low. You could work in a right-to-work (for less) state, but you'd have to work for less there, too.

How can you miss the obvious math going on here? Where is this land of milk and honey where teachers negotiate their own pay and live large as a consequence? I don't think it exists when your eyes are open.

Darren said...

At this point, Dean, I don't think you're interested in honest debate but rather scoring points. I also think you're deliberately misrepresenting my position, which I've stated several times.

I'm not going to play wack-a-mole with your distortions. I have now had the last word on this topic.

Shannon Severance said...

"However, I would assert that if a teacher is not in the union, he should not be able to use the same union contract. He should have to negotiate his own benefits, pay, conditions, etc. The problem is that teachers who opt out still benefit from all the conditions negotiated by unions." And the union, especially the large national organizations would fight tooth and nail to keep the law the way it is, that those who are not members are not allowed to negotiate a different contract, and must work to the negotiated contract. Without the exclusive right to negotiate a great deal of their leverage may evaporate.