We’re Being Played for Suckers

by DAVID MACARAY

Two damaging misconceptions about labor unions:  (1) Union members tend to be substandard workers (lazy, unreliable, surly, privileged), and (2) union members can’t be fired because their “masters” will always go to bat to protect them.

Where they got that first one, the notion that union members are bad workers, is a mystery.  After all, a quick look at the economics should make it clear that union jobs—those, typically, with the highest wages, superior benefits and best and safest working conditions—are going to attract the most talented workers in a community.  Why wouldn’t they?  Why wouldn’t the best jobs in a community attract the best people?  Yet, we allow ourselves to be swayed by the propaganda.

And as widespread as this anti-union propaganda is, it’s especially virulent when it comes to public service unions.  Apparently, everyone and his brother (including President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Bill Gates)  just naturally assume that it’s the teachers’ union that prevents conscientious, well-meaning school administrators from firing bad teachers.

People like to believe that if those incompetent teachers did not belong to a powerful labor union, if they did not have cadres of union lawyers standing by ready to defend them, the administrators would be free to do the right thing—to drain the swamp and rid our schools of those union-created monsters who are holding our students hostage and depriving them of a decent education.  That may be a compelling narrative, but it’s total fiction.

The following statistics were taken from the anti-union website “Teachers’ Union Exposed.”   The site’s most recent figures show that California school teachers are 87.5-percent unionized.  Accordingly, the percentage of “experienced” California teachers that were fired was 2.03-percent, and the percentage of “probationary” teachers that were fired was 0.98-percent.

By comparison, North Carolina, which is 97.7-percent non-union, fired 0.6-percent of its experienced teachers, and 0.3-percent of its probationary teachers.  In other words, California and its big, bad teachers’ union was “tougher” on its union teachers than North Carolina was on its non-union teachers.  It’s puzzling.  School administrators in non-unionized North Carolina are in the position to fire any teacher they choose, but they don’t do that.  They don’t fire their teachers.

And why don’t they?  Why don’t these non-union schools fire more teachers?  The answer is obvious.  Teachers—everywhere and anywhere, North, South, East and West, union and non-union—don’t deserve to be fired.  And why would they?  Why on earth would we expect our school teachers to be relieved of their jobs due to incompetence?  Are our colleges, universities, and credentialing programs turning out such lousy teachers, we have no recourse but to get rid of them?  That doesn’t even make sense.

We need to understand something.  This aggressive move against public schools and teachers’ unions we’re witnessing is being orchestrated not by educational reformers interested in improving our schools, but by greedy entrepreneurs looking to privatize the whole shebang.  Having millions of kids leave the public schools and enroll in privates or for-profit charters represents a potential bonanza.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that it’s the unions who are responsible for the problems our public schools are facing, take a moment to set them straight.  Make it clear that this whole “union teacher vs. non-union teacher” dichotomy is a hoax.  It’s a con game.  Put it to them in the simplest possible terms.  We’re being played for suckers.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net


 

Will Falk moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee, WI where he was a public defender.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative