Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 23, 2014
California Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu made a ruling with broad implications for the education system, teachers and society. The ruling found that teacher tenure violated the State Constitutional civil rights by not offering poor inner-city students equal opportunity for a quality education. In essence, the Judge found that tenure protected teachers at the expense of damaging the quality of education in inner-cities stating:
“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students.”
“The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
Judge Treu specifically criticized California’s inability to fire incompetent teachers stating: “All sides to this litigation agree that competent teachers are a critical, if not the most important, component of success of a child’s in-school educational experience,” and “there is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.”
The negative reaction from teachers’ unions was immediate with California Federation of Teachers president saying: “We believe the judge fell victim to the anti-union, anti-teacher rhetoric and one of America’s finest corporate law firms that set out to scapegoat teachers for the real problems that exist in public education. There are real problems in our schools, but this decision in no way helps us move the ball forward.”
This is a typical unionists/leftist response, attacking the opposition’s integrity. To accept that there are “real problems” in America’s schools and exonerating teachers unions and their parochial interests from any part of the problem defies logic. The union’s real intent is clear; protect its members irrespective of the needs of greater society.
Tenure in the educational field came into existence to protect teachers with dissenting views from being harassed or fired. Tenure was therefore not for the protection of teachers, who currently in California received ten-year after 18 months of service, but instead for the protection of freely expressed knowledge and its related discourse. The result of tenure, however, has been much different. Not only has it helped incompetent teachers retain jobs, but it has not broaden political views within educational institutions with teaching positions, especially in universities, controlled by the Progressives.
With the decline of many American schools and the poor results graduates have performed in standardized test, the debate about tenure will continue to grow. There can be no more of a justification for teachers’ tenure for job protection than for any other American worker.
In recent decades the judicial system has become activist, inflicting Progressive dogma on society. That activism is now coming full circle with more conservative judges becoming willing to use judicial power to change society. The implications of this activist court are no more dangerous today than they were decades ago. To my friends on the Left, I say what goes around comes around.
Posted in Education | Tagged: California, civil rights, Judge, Rolf, tenure, Unconstitutional, Union | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 19, 2013
Up until recent weeks those that opposed Obamacare were called obstructionists or worse. That dog no longer hunts with unions and now the mainstream media criticizing Obama’s signature legislation.
NBC News Myers and Carroll Ann Mears report in Businesses claim Obamacare has forced them to cut employee hours that employers countrywide are announcing cuts to workers’ work weeks to under 30 hours in order to be exempted from the burdens (costs) of Obamacare. The report offers examples of employers cutting workers’ hours and the economic burdens such cuts mean for the employees.
When asked about the unintended consequences of Obamacare, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, Jason Furman, said: “We are seeing no systematic evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having an adverse impact on job growth or the number of hours employees are working. … Since the ACA (Obamacare) became law, nearly 90 percent of the gain in employment has been in full-time positions.” Furman may be referring government workers, but not the real world.
Collaborating NBC’s findings, Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union with 1.2 million members says: “It is happening. Wait a year. You’ll see tremendous impact as workers have their hours reduced and their incomes reduced. The facts are already starting to show up. Their statistics, I think, are a little behind the time.” In addition, NBC interviewed 20 small businesses throughout the United States and found that almost all will cut hours for some employees.
The coming train wreck that is Obamacare should only be a surprise to those who did not take Economics 101. You cannot add millions to health care coverage without raising costs substantially. Obama’s statement otherwise either was disingenuous or indicates a complete lack of understanding of basic economic concepts.
Posted in Obamacare | Tagged: 30, Cut, Hours, NBC, Obamacare, Union | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 27, 2013
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) represents 150,000 federal employees including 100,000 employed by the IRS. In a move of incredible gall, the NTEU is attempting to get its members exempted from Obamacare.
The NTEU has posted on its website the form letter below for its members to send to Congress explaining why they should be exempted from Obamacare. This is an outrageous request since the IRS is not only charged with enforcing Obamacare on Americans, but will hire over 10,000 new employees for enforcement. And yes, the NTEU gets 10,000 new dues paying members. Adding insult to injury, it is reported that over 90% of the NTEU’s political contributions go to President Obama’s Democrat Party.
Incredibly, the NTEU’s form letter indicates that forcing IRS employees to fall under the Obamacare mandates would “put federal employees in a special class”. Interpretation, these union workers believe that they should be paid to force other Americans onto Obamacare, however, they should be exempted.
The NTEU request for special treatment under Obamacare would be comical if not another example of politicians and government employees taking taxpayer money to better themselves.
If Obamacare is good for America then it should be good for any government worker or politician. But don’t expect President Obama to go against his union cronies. The incestuous relationship between the Democratic Party and government workers endangers the Country’s democracy.
Letter posted on NTEU website:
I am a federal employee and one of your constituents. I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
H.R. 1780 would put federal employees in a special class where they would be prohibited from receiving health insurance through their employer. It would treat federal employees differently from state and local government employees and most employees of large private sector companies who receive health insurance benefits through their employer. The primary purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to provide a marketplace for the sale and purchase of health insurance for those who do not have such coverage – not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers.
I work hard and am proud of the services that I provide to your constituents every day. One of the main benefits I receive as a federal employee is the ability to purchase health insurance coverage through the FEHBP with an employer contribution towards those benefits. Please let me know your views on this legislation. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Posted in Obamacare | Tagged: Employees, Exempt, Exemption, IRS, Obamacare, Union | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 27, 2012
The United States Postal Service announced a record loss of $16 billion for 2012. $11 billion of the loss came from a requirement to pre-fund future health benefits for its retirees. While some question this requirement, not doing so would result in huge future deficits and cash shortfalls for the USPS.
As reported by CNNMoney.com, the postal workers’ union has taken a head-in-the-sand approach of the losses with its president Fredric Rolando saying: “The mandate [to pre-fund future retirees medical benefits] sent has depleted Postal Service funds, forcing the [agency] to give up any quarterly or annual profits, empty its bank accounts and exhaust its borrowing authority … to satisfy an unfair political mandate.” Rolando then incredibly concluded this lame logic by stating that the USPS would only lost $2.2 billion for 2012 without the prefund benefit requirement. It seems that in a day of trillion dollar annual federal deficits, government workers view a $2.2 billion loss as trivial.
The problem for the Postal Service is an unsustainable business model. While some blame the sluggish economy, it is the changing (decreasing) demand for the USPS’s services that is at the heart of the problem. The Internet is replacing much of the bulk day-to-day mailing and private companies such as FedEx and UPS have eaten the Postal Service’s lunch at the premium end of the market were special service allow for reasonable profits.
While the Postal Service announced plans to cut over 150,000 workers in the next two years and increase first-class stamp prices, they will not be able to pivot quickly enough to match their decreasing revenues. It is difficult enough for private companies to make such changes timely. It is impossible for publicly mandated and controlled organizations to do so. For example, the USPS would like to end its low-volume and low revenue Saturday services. However, Congress will not support such an action due to varying special interests demands. As a result, the Postal Service losses will increase.
The U.S. Postal Service is a federal agency. While it does not receive direct taxpayer funds it has already borrowed $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury. Washington politicians may claim a distinction, however, that is meaningless for taxpayers.
It is time to demand that the U.S. Postal Service become self-funded and supported. Customers who use the Service must be willing to pay for its actual costs and the Service must be willing to supply a product at prices customers are willing to pay. It ain’t rocket science!
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: FedEx, Frederick Rolando, Internet, Loss, Postal Service, Saturday delivery, Union, USPS | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 17, 2012
Blog reader Liz pointed us to an interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal written by James Taranto titled The Audacity of 51%. Taranto correctly points to the doubletalk that has become the hallmark of Barack Obama.
After George W. Bush was reelected in 2004, Obama wrote in his book: “The Audacity of Hope“: “Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign–a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate.” Fast-forward eight years with Obama winning a second term by a similar margin over Mitt Romney and the President’s tone is quite different. In this week’s news conference he acted like a man who received a mandate. This myopic approach will result in his second term becoming as disastrous as that of George W. Bush.
One of the first actions taken by the President took after his second term election was to invite to the White House ultra-Leftists for a summit on economic policy. This group included union bosses and MoveOn.org. The significance of the meeting immediately following the election was clear; the hard Left will lead in his administration for the next four years, hardly a sign of compromise.
The rants coming from those Leftists after attending the meeting was telling. Teacher union president Dennis Van Roekel, said: “I brought the message that, number one, it’s important that we let the Bush tax cuts disappear for the wealthiest 2%. As we’re looking for a $1.2 trillion solution, $829 billion takes us a long way there.” Forgetting for a moment whether one agrees with increasing taxes on the upper income bracket, this statement exhibits illogic. October’s deficit alone was $120 billion. At an estimated $829 billion in taxes over 10 years, this surcharge will only cover about seven months of the deficit, certainly not “a long way there” for anyone on the proper side of sanity.
Efforts to control the Country’s deficit and spending have failed during the past decade. While the deficit has been made significantly worse under President Obama, the problems started before his election. Those of us who believe in smaller government and more responsible spending have failed to exert any political clout, even when Republicans controlled the presidency and the Congress.
The obstructionist behavior of Republicans during past two years has also failed to limit government spending or its intrusions and has played a role in the reelection of the most Leftist Pres. of modern times. If the GOP is to be the party of responsible government, a change in its strategy and governance are demanded.
The American people reelected a president who was clear on his goals and policies. Therefore, this writer suggests that the Republicans in Congress should allow Obama to implement his fiscal policies including the proposed tax increases. The President’s policies are not grounded in economic reality and are therefore destined to fail. Given the precarious economic situation facing the United States, this failure will occur relatively quickly and the President and his party will be held responsible and accountable. This is the only avenue open for conservatives to obtain the mandate required to realistically address the deficit and overregulated environment that had so sapped the strength out of the Country and its economy.
In addition, conservatives must focus all of the capital they maintain in Washington on battles whose outcomes have truly long-term future effects. There are no battles more important than those that are yet to come over President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees. Taxes and their rates can be changed in fairly short order. The same is true for most legislation. A Supreme Court justice can inflict damage on the country for decades.
Posted in Politics | Tagged: Election, moveon.org, Obama, Republicans, Supreme Court, Taxes, Union, Van Roekel | 1 Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 28, 2011
Newsradio 620 WTMJ out of Wisconsin reported on the ongoing despicable behavior by public employee unions in the state. Last Friday, Wisconsin’s Governor Walker visited a local school in order to read students. He was not only met by protesters, but also the Vandals. It seems some of the disgruntled unionists superglued locks on school doors in an effort to disrupt the visit.
The local school’s president said the disruptions: “People ought to start acting like adults. You’ve got little kids who have no clue what you’re even talking about, and you make something political when it isn’t, that’s just flat-out wrong.”
The aggressiveness and greed of unions typically blocks reason.
Throughout history manufacturing unions used disruptive and sometimes violent acts to promote goals of increased wages and benefits. Society often turned a blind eye towards these tactics in the mistaken belief that the unions were representing David against Goliath. While in the short run the unions’ tactics helped them obtain increased wages and benefits for members, they also led to the destruction of heavy manufacturing in the United States and the loss of millions of union jobs.
After unions helped destroy major manufacturing in the United States, they turned their focus towards other sources of dues paying members. Without member dues, union bosses could not continue getting paid. Their focus was on the public employees including teachers.
Union strategies for increasing wages and benefits for their public employee members changed little from their earlier manufacturing roots. The threat of strikes and other intimidation forced states and municipalities to acquiesce in demands that were unsustainable in the long run. With local governments now in dire financial conditions, politicians like Governor Walker are forced to say “no more”. This has led to even more aggressive and sometimes desperate union tactics in their attempt to avoid the inevitable.
In the battle between unions and major manufacturers in the United States, management was not without fault. They acquiesced to economically unsound union demands because of shortsightedness. In addition, they did not recognize that manufacturing was moving towards worldwide competition. Those manufacturers that have not since been bailed out, no longer produce goods United States. While a sad resolution, as a way free markets operate.
Public-sector businesses, such as schools, cannot close down like the manufacturers who preceded them. Politicians and bureaucrats, like their short sighted counterparts in heavy manufacturing decades previously, too often acquiesced to unsustainable union demands. Now states and municipalities are running deficits and are forced address the challenges. The required actions will be more painful and difficult than had they been reasonably addressed in real-time.
Certainly the challenges that face America’s educational systems are complex and involve much more than teachers. However, the greed and inappropriate behavior exhibited by some teachers unions do not set appropriate role models for the educational environment.
Posted in Public Employees, Unions | Tagged: Education, Public Employees, Scott Walker, superglued, Teachers, Union, Wisconsin | 2 Comments »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 15, 2011
Joe Davidson of The Washington Post broke a story last Friday that shows the dire straits that the U.S. Postal Service is facing. In the last four years it has lost $20 billion with over $8 billion lost in 2010. These losses have been caused by the precipitous drop in mail volume (20%) and the USPS’s huge costs for employee healthcare and retirement.
In a letter to employees, the Postal Service announced a plan that includes a 20% reduction (120,000 employees) of its workforce immediately and another 100,000 reduced in the next four years. In addition, the USPS wants to withdraw its employees and retirees from the costly Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The letter informed employees that the USPS will be insolvent this September and further stated: “The Postal Service is facing dire economic challenges that threaten its very existence. If the Postal Service was a private sector business, it would have filed for bankruptcy and utilized the reorganization process to restructure its labor agreements to reflect the new financial reality.”
The USPS’s plans, which in essence would break the union’s contract requires Congressional approval. The postal workers’ union (APWU) reacted as expected with its president saying: “They will vehemently oppose any attempt to destroy the collective bargaining rights of postal employees or tamper with our recently negotiated contract – whether by postal management or members of Congress.” Translation; the union doesn’t give a hoot about financial realities of the USPS’s or the customers’ needs that it serves. They demand continuation of unsustainable wages and benefits from a failing business. This is the same attitude that forced the closure of major manufactures throughout the United States. If the government does not act responsibly and quickly, public employee unions will do the same to its agencies and ultimately the People.
The USPS saga is further proof that government doesn’t and cannot create jobs. Jobs are created by consumer demand for goods and services. This demand ultimately sets long term wages, not union demands.
The government needs to get out of the way of the market and allow supply and demand to rebalance themselves. Although this approach comes with some pain, it is the only way for the economy to start growing again. In the case of the USPS, while it will need to downsize or even ultimately close down, the services that it supplied will be offered by more efficient companies, such as UPS and Fed Ex and that will benefit the economy as a whole.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: APWU, Fed Ex, Jobs, Supply & Demand, Union, UPS, US Postal Service, USPS | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 23, 2010
Union stagehand Duane Hammond got fired form a job setting up a stage platform for an Obama rally in California. His crime: wearing a sweatshirt that a depiction of the ship his son is serving on in the Navy, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H. W. Bush.
When questioned about the incident, James Wright, of the IATSE Union Local 33, says the union is still investigating what happened; “If he was sent home because of the sweatshirt, he will be paid for the day“.
The Progressives on the Left are marching down a dangerous path. Whether it is the girls walking of the View, or a Union in Californian, if you speak against their politically correct message, their response is to shut you down. At some point this slippery slope could lead to fascism.
Posted in Unions | Tagged: Fascist, IATSE Union Local 33, Navy, Obama, Progressives, Rally, U.S.S. George H. W. Bush, Union, View | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 11, 2010
Too often our politicians show a lack of courage, using political correct dribble to obfuscate issues. This is not the case with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a refreshing voice on politics.
Blog reader Jim Mahoney forwarded a You Tube video, posted below, that is a must view. In it he is attacked by a teacher’s union member in a town hall type meeting. Instead of the usual political double talk, Christie responds in plain English. How refreshing!
It would sure be nice if our politicians in Washington would be taken to school by the New Jersey governor. Second thoughts, Christie might consider a run for President.
Posted in Chris Christie, Politics, Unions | Tagged: Christie, New Jersey, president, Teacher, Union, Washington | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 26, 2010
General Motors was a basket case ready to close down when the Obama Administration decided it worthy of a taxpayer bailout. About $60 billion later and the American taxpayers now own 61% of GM.
There are many reasons for the once great General to have fallen so far. They built cars buyers did not want, had poor quality and management, and a labor union more concerned about monthly dues than the viability of General Motors and its workers. But there was anothercause for GM’s meltdown; over reliance on leases and loan incentives to sell cars through its finance arm, GMAC. While GM divested of GMAC in 2006, this division was in such poor shape that taxpayers had to also bail it out in 2008 to the tune of another $17 billion.
Unfortunately, neither GM nor its government owners learned from its previous meltdown. The Wall Street Journal reported that General Motors will acquire AmeriCredit for $3.5 billion. Adding insult to injury, AmeriCredit is the largest provider of car loans to buyers with low credit scores. GM announced that their strategy is to win over more car buyers by increasing vehicle leases and loans.
Credit and excessive debt are at the heart of the economic mess we continue to be mired in. Car companies need to return to a mentality that vehicles sell because of their quality and other product attributes. If GM had confidence in the superiority of their vehicles this use of $3.5 billion of taxpayers’ funds to purchase a credit arm would not be required.
Posted in Bailouts, Debt, General Motors, GMAC | Tagged: AmeriCredit, Credit, Debt, General Motors, GM, GMAC, Taxpayers, Union | Leave a Comment »