Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We’re Being Played for Suckers

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


 

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail