FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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


 

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

November 22, 2017
Jonathan Cook
Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot
William Kaufman
The Great American Sex Panic of 2017
Richard Moser
Young Patriots, Black Panthers and the Rainbow Coalition
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness
Lee Artz
Cuba Libre, 2017
Mark Weisbrot
Mass Starvation and an Unconstitutional War: US / Saudi Crimes in Yemen
Frank Stricker
Republican Tax Cuts: You’re Right, They’re Not About Economic Growth or Lifting Working-Class Incomes
Edward Hunt
Reconciling With Extremists in Afghanistan
Dave Lindorff
Remembering Media Critic Ed Herman
Nick Pemberton
What to do About Al Franken?
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail