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Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category

95% of NY State Teachers Rated “Highly Effective” or “Effective”

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 1, 2014

Marc Bernstein was a New York state superintendent of schools for two decades. His op-ed Where All the Teachers Are Above Average in the Wall Street Journal this week offered a chilling indictment for one of country’s largest school system.

DunceAccording to Bernstein, New York State has released its teacher evaluations that ranked 95% of its teachers as “highly effective” or “effective”. Of the remaining, 4% were considered “developing”, with only 1% listed as “ineffective” for the 2012 school year.  These percentages are incredible given that over half of New York State’s students in grades 4 through 8 were not proficient in reading or math skills in statewide tests.

How does this huge disconnect between the way New York teachers are graded and the outcomes with students? According to Bernstein, this comes from New York’s poorly formed laws and a school culture that obviates honest teacher evaluations.  For example, 60% of teacher evaluation in New York State is subjective, based on classroom observations that must be first agreed upon at the local level with teachers’ unions.  20% of the evaluation should be more objective measurements of math and reading skills, however they too must be agreed upon between local school systems and their teachers’ unions.  Adding insult to injury, New York’s largest school system, New York City, was not included in the evaluations because it’s union would not agree to language in their contract concerning the reporting of evaluation data.

Like teachers, school administrators are eligible for lifelong tenure in New York prior to three years of experience. This tenure protects unproductive teachers and administrators and Bernstein suggests removing it for administrators and having tenure review for teachers.  Both suggestions are no-brainers, but have little chance of being implemented given the political power of teachers unions.

Our children and greater society will continue to suffer until real competition is injected into America’s public education systems. The sad irony is that the most efficient school systems are located in the larger cities that include a disproportionate amount of minorities and disadvantaged children.  The poor education they receive is the largest impediment for these children to succeed in American society.


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Right to Work Laws Promote Economic Growth

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 21, 2014

The so-called “right-to-work” laws make it illegal for workers to be forced to join a union, even if one represents the plant in which they work.  In states that do not have right-to-work” laws, union membership can be made a requirement of employment in those factories.

Pro-unionists argue that once a plant votes for union representation, all workers in that plant should be forced to pay dues to that union whether or not the individual employee desires the representation.  The opposing argument revolves around the rights of individual workers to choose or not to choose to join the union.

Those favoring compulsory unionization or closed shops often proffer to view that this requirement is for the overall good of not only the company workers as a group, but also overall society.  This is in keeping with a made union argument that somehow unions not only promote the overall economic good by raising worker compensation, but also help companies be more efficient in some undefined manner.  The video clip below of Barack Obama on a stump speech in front of the union audience repeats this argument.

IRreview.com has published economic facts that bring into question the soundness of the unions’ and Obama’s economic argument.  The following facts are listed from a study by The Competitive Enterprise Institute relating to economic activity between 1977 and 2012:

  • Median income for a family of four has decreased by approximately $13,100 in forced-unionism states. In addition, the greater the union membership percentage, the more depressed the state’s economic growth.
  • States with right-to-work laws have had an overall net gain in population growth compared to a net loss in other states. Populations move to more prosperous states.
  • During this period, nationwide the employment growth rate was 71%. However, in right-to-work states that number increased by 105% with non-right-to-work states growing by only 50%.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute study is interesting at various levels.  First, it bolsters the argument that right-to-work laws play a part in a state’s economic success.  In addition, it helps demonstrate that there are unintended consequences when the government interferes with the natural operations of the marketplace, in this case the labor marketplace.  While compulsory union shop laws may initially have been made for the benefit of workers, they have had long-term detrimental effects on employment and compensation.  It is likely that these compulsory laws’ largest benefactors have been the professional workers who work for organized labor including their executives, i.e. union bosses.

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Union Membership Continues to Shrink

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 29, 2013

CNNmoney  has published the statistics on union membership in the United States showing its continuing decline, especially in the private sector.  Totally union membership now represents only 11.3% of the American workforce, approximately same percentage as in 1916 and down from its high of 33% in 1953.

A look at the division of union membership between the public and the private sectors tells an even more telling story.  In the public sector nearly 36% of workers are unionized compared to just under 7% in the private sector.

The small percentage of union representation, especially in the private sector, brings into question President Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s pandering to unions.  First, it demonstrates how divisive and in fact radical the Democratic Party has become, over representing the fringes of society.  Also, the large amount of funds that the Party receives from public-sector unions corrupts as they are in essence payoffs for the government giving big contract concessions.  Without this incestuous relationship the government would more likely represent the taxpayers’ interests instead of those of union bosses.

One indication of how radical the modern-day Democratic Party has become is found in the words of one of its founding fathers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said of public employees collective bargaining rights:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.  …… Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.”

Fast-forward 60 years and Americans who agree with FDR on this issue are demonized by Obama and his Party.




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Obama Appointments Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 25, 2013

On January 4, 2012 President Obama made three “recess appointments” to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).  Through recess appointments the President bypassed the Senate, who by law must approve them.  This tactic was employed so that the President could stuff the NLRB with a pro-labor union board, in this case union lawyer Richard Griffin, Democrat pro-union Sharon Block and Republican Terence Flynn.  (Flynn left the board prior to the end of 2012.)

The Wall Street Journal reported that a federal appeals court today ruled Obama’s actions Unconstitutional.  The court went further, indicating that as a result, the NLRB lacked the required quorum in making various rulings and decisions bringing into question their legitimacy and validity.

It is not surprising that Obama’s actions were found Unconstitutional.  This President flaunts the Constitution as he makes mandates and executive orders at an accelerating rate on all sorts of issues.  If indeed Obama is an expert on Constitutional law, as so often promoted by the mainstream media, then his actions are not only troubling, but scary.

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Michigan Enacts Right to Work Law

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 12, 2012

Michigan became the 24th state to enact a “right to work” law.  This law makes it illegal for companies and unions to force employees to join a union or pay union dues as a requirement for employment.

While most Americans believe that being forced to join a union or any organization is against their basic individual freedoms, unions and their Progressive allies have a more dictatorial view.  Unions argue that forcing workers to join the organization improves collective bargaining rights and stops those who not pay dues from obtaining benefits obtained from union representation.  Both arguments are red herrings and are cover-ups for the real reasons; greed and power.  Union bosses benefit from compulsory union dues that help maintain their executive–level salaries.  Politicians obtain the benefits from compulsory dues in the form of union donations and organizational efforts that help maintain their political power.

michigan-legislationThe passage of Michigan’s right the work law was aided by a union political effort that backfired.  Unions helped place on the November ballot an initiative that would have strengthened collective bargaining laws in the State’s Constitution.  The initiative was defeated by over 15 percentage points, a remarkable rebuke in a state with a long history of unionism.

After the Michigan law was approved by its legislature, union protests, sometimes violent, broke out.  Outside agitators stoked the poor losers reaction with even President Obama weighing in on the issue when he said that right to work laws are made “to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions.”  This is a ludicrous and politically motivated claim that is not backed by fact.

In a recent article titled Freedom from union compulsion, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby offers the following facts about unions and their economic impact on states:

  • In the past four decades the population of right-to-work states has doubled, compared to compulsory unionism states growing by only one-third.  About 5 million people have moved to states with right to work laws from those states that do not have this freedom.
  • In the past 10 years, compensation in right-to-work states grew by about 12%, versus only 3% in other states.
  • One of Michigan’s neighbors, Indiana, became a right to work state about a year ago and has since added over 40,000 jobs.  During the same period Michigan lost 4,200 jobs.

Compulsory unionization is an attack on individual freedom.  In addition, the irrational economic behavior shown by many unions and their high paid bosses result in long-term problems for their companies and the states in which they are located.  The facts included above help prove this reality.

Ultimately, the consumer decides on the profit level of companies and compensation paid to their workers.  If consumers demand a company’s the product over alternatives available, thus applying companies and employees will prosper.  If not, upstarts will enter the market and ultimately damage the inefficient companies and their workers.  It is this basic economic law that led to the downfall of many large industrial companies in the United States including the auto industry in Michigan.  Michigan’s passage of the right to work law is a step in the road to recovery.

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Ed Asner and California Teachers Union Take Class Warfare to New heights

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 7, 2012

The California teachers union has produced a disgusting piece of propaganda in cartoon form.  It includes a vicious attack on Americans with wealth.  During one point the video shows a wealthy person actually peeing on a less well-to-do person.  The intent of the message is clear; the only way to become wealthy in America is by taking unfair advantage of others.  Further, any person who has not obtained wealth or security in the United States is in this predicament due to the devious actions of others.

The California teachers’ union video is reminiscent of propaganda used in repressive regimes of the past such as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.  In addition to being divisive for American society, being promoted by those that are supposed to be responsible for teaching young Americans is downright frightening.

When questioned by a reporter concerning his role in the propaganda video, Asner was unrepentant.  First, he indicated that he can recall what was in the video.  Then, after asking the reporter if he had any money, Asner responded: “Can I piss on you?”

The fact that the Ed Asner’s and Michael Moore’s of the world are so wealthy themselves shows just how disingenuous and greedy the elitist Hollywood leftists have become.

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Federal Workers Lobbying Congress Concerning Potential Fiscal Cliff Deal

Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 21, 2012

The Nationaljournal.com posted an article at the heart of America’s deficit problem.  A group called the Federal-Postal Coalition that represents two dozen federal employee unions is lobbying Congress to spare its members from any budget cuts agreed to in negotiations to forestall the so-called Fiscal Cliff.  A Coalition letter to Congress states:

Federal and postal employees and their families are hardworking, middle-class Americans who are struggling during these tough times just like other Americans.  No other group has been asked to financially contribute the way they have, and it is time our nation’s leaders found other ways to reduce the deficit than continually taking from those who have dedicated their lives to public service.”

These letter is incredible.  There are many “hard-working, middle-class Americans who are struggling”.  Many have “been asked to financially contribute” to their businesses’ problems.  As for “dedicating their lives to public service”, given the pay scales and benefits offered government employees, that dog no longer haunts

This stance by the federal employees’ unions exemplifies the real fiscal challenge facing the United States, as well as other Western countries.  The issue is not complicated.  No group wants to or is willing to give up their piece of the pie.  Asking politicians in Washington who retain power by serving special interest to cut cost is like asking an alcoholic to manage a liquor store.

If the Country is truly desirous and willing to attack its fiscal crisis that was decades in the making, the pain will have to be spread across all sectors of society including those that are receiving from the government and those are paying into it.  That requires less benefits and entitlements, as well as overall government spending, and yes, higher taxes.  A good place to start would be the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles recommendations.

President Obama ran for office promising to take care of government workers and his union buddies.  Given that this promise cannot be fulfilled, it will be interesting to see how the Teflon president handles this matter.

Posted in Deficits, Unions | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Democratic Party has Become Radicalized

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 11, 2012

The election results of last week in Wisconsin, San Diego and San Jose, have radically changed organized labor’s grip on public sector employees.  While organize labor began its rise to power with public employees in Wisconsin 50 years ago, last week’s election in that state will help unravel unions’ power in the public-sector.

Shortly after Gov. Scott Walker was elected in Wisconsin, the narrative was created by the Left and Progressive press that his efforts to cut organized labor’s power that it wields over municipal and state governments was a radical infringement on workers’ rights.  A review of history shows that in fact it is mainstream Democrats and even organized labor  of just a few years ago warned the Country of the dangers of giving organize government employees the right to strike, as the following examples show:

Fiorello LaGuardia – This well regarded Mayor of New York City was a New Dealer and supporter of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt.  LaGuardia said of public employee unions that he did “not want any of the pinochle club atmosphere to take hold” in New York City and that “the right to strike against the government, is not and cannot be recognized.

George Meany – This famous president of America’s most powerful labor organization, the A.F.L.-C.I.O, said in 1955 that “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

Franklin D Roosevelt – In 1937 President Roosevelt wrote a letter to the National Federation of Federal Employees declining its invitation to attend their convention.  In that letter, the entire copy provided below, Roosevelt said:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.  It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.  ….  Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied.  ….  It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

In keeping with the beliefs of LaGuardia, Meany and Roosevelt, it is the more recent Democratic Party that has radicalized and trampled their forefathers’ views on important societal issues.  While Gov. Scott Walker would have been accepted by these earlier Democrats that remain revered today, he is demonized by new Democrats who have become a wing of the world socialist movement.

During a weekly television interview, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels suggested the next logical step in ending the corruption of public unions when he said: “I think, really, government works better without them” suggesting public-worker unions should not exist and “I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table.”  Daniels is only saying what Franklin Roosevelt and other Democrats believed for so long.

As this Blog proffered previously, President John Kennedy would be thrown at a today’s Democratic Party.  He would also be joined by no other than FDR.

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San Diego and San Jose Vote to Cut Pensions

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 7, 2012

The results of Tuesday’s elections were ominous for public employee unions.  The election with the most publicity was the failed recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  However, two elections in California may be of even more significance for unions.

The cities of San Diego and San Jose voted to cut pension benefits for their public employees.  The margins indicate significant voter anger with San Diego passing the measure by two thirds and San Jose by approximately 70%.  Adding significance to these results is that they occurred in California, a liberal state that traditionally votes Democratic.

The problems that San Diego, San Jose and many other municipalities and states face are bloated and unsustainable benefits going to public employees.  These benefits were substantially increased during the bubble years by politicians who are no longer in office.  Now the chickens have come home to roost and the governments have been forced to cut services and layoff workers to pay for the benefits.

The problems cities and municipalities face caused by the excessive benefits for their employees are examples as to why public employees should not be allowed to organize.  Not only do they negotiate with people who do not have to pay the bills, but often these same politicians offer the employees benefits in exchange for union votes.  This perverse reality has resulted in public employees being paid far in excess of private employee counterparts.  For example, police officers and firefighters in San Jose have the ability to retire after only 30 years with pensions worth 90% of their salaries.

The high cost of public employees has created a dilemma for Democratic politicians who run many of America’s large municipalities.  As examples, San Jose’s mayor is a Democrat and even Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago is attempting to cut public employee pension costs.  This reality places Democrats at odds with one of their most important supporters, public employee unions.  It will make a special interest group less enthused about voting.

Posted in Public Employees, Unions | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Gov. Walker Survives Recall Vote

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 6, 2012

In Wisconsin yesterday Gov. Scott Walker survived an attempted recall vote by a 53% to a 46% margin.  The election centered on the power and demands of government employee unions.  Last year Gov. Walker limited collective-bargaining rights for Wisconsin public employees and also made these employees pay for more of their pension and healthcare benefits costs.  These actions directly led to the recall attempt.

The results in Wisconsin are significant on various fronts.  First, voter turnout was heavy making the outcome a legitimate test of the electorates’ desires.  In addition, Wisconsin is a middle-of-the-road state has traditionally had a liberal leaning.  Finally, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 14% margin just three years ago, an indication that the race will be tighter in this fall’s presidential election.

The Left has attempted to portray the election in Wisconsin as a mean-spirited conservative attempting to trample on working men in women rights.  This false narrative ignores the reality that benefit costs for state workers are at crisis levels.  According to the Pew Research Center state governments owe in excess of $1 trillion to public health care programs and pensions.  The Left’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis is bizarre and self-serving.

In a victory speech after election Walker said: “Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country, and we tell people all across the world that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.  But now it is time to move on and move forward in Wisconsin.”  If only it was this simple.

During periods of deleveraging as we now face, people are hurt economically.  As the belt-tightening continues, special-interest groups, whether labor unions or large corporations, lobby to have the other guy pay the piper.  Each will continue to claim noble reasons for being spared the cuts.  At the end of the day is merely self-interest.

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