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Thread: School Board Pres. on teacher arrest: Everyone wants to side with the "little woman"'

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    There should be compensation standards that prevent public sector employees, including in education, including faculty, staff, and administration from being paid too unusually low or too unusually high. It's not impossible to peg public sector compensation, including for public education, within a range of percentages of the local median income, for example. There does not need to be this divide-and-conquer approach to leveraging max pay out of every single elected body across the country, but that's what unions do, and that's what smooth operator executive administrators do. It benefits cunning smooth operator administrators who can bounce around from district to district with their finely tuned template for a cushy contract, and it benefits unions. I don't much care about preserving that divide-and-conquer, quiet secret negotiations to leverage maximum pay for administrators and unions from elected boards/councils.
    There's no way to guarantee what you're suggesting via some formula, because even the formula would have to be negotiated. And without a union, employees cannot speak with one voice and be heard by the public. The school board can issue statements and be convincing. The only thing individual employees can do is express their own particular opinions, which will be haphazardly covered by the press. A coordinated effort at communication always bests a random one, particularly when it's filtered through a press that will may or may not have its own agenda. The result is that employees lose, just as a disorganized football team always loses against one that's united with a strategy.

    These standards should be in place wherever federal and state government funding for education exists. It would settle and preempt a great deal of the absolutely constant pissing and moaning and controversy surrounding the secretly negotiated administrator contracts versus the secretly negotiated union contracts. And the total cost of compensation should be readily available and reported in a consistent manner to be apples-to-apples comparable across all districts everywhere. They're public employees, yet their compensation is always privately negotiated and kept as hush hush as possible. That is not necessary.
    I don't know what you mean by "hush-hush." Pretty much all matters of public policy are discussed in private by a small group of people before they are presented to a wider audience. Are you suggesting we do away with the committee system in legislatures and instead insist that all details be debated on the floor? Nothing would ever get done.

    I have lived in a small town, statistically low-to-moderate income community, not a high-crime place, just fairly poor, with teacher ratios at 12 to 1, and yet by percentage of local median income those teachers were some of the highest paid teachers probably almost anywhere in the country. The union encountered virtually no resistance from administration for decades, and the administrators were basically a ferris-wheel of high-paid itinerants who never had a lick of long-term personal, financial or emotional investment in the community. And yet there was still the exact same drama between teachers and administration. The same pissing and moaning about teachers being underpaid and administrators being overpaid, all facts and statistics aside. It was as if they were reading from a script, because you'd hear the exact same rhetoric from any other teacher's union in the country.
    And that's one case. There are many other cases where teachers are unable to live in the communities where they teach. Isn't it up to the public to find its way through the rhetoric on both sides of any public policy issue?

    There should simply be compensation standards that puts everyone within an established range. Administration included.
    You and I might be able to agree on such a thing between the two of us, but how would we then foist it on everyone else? Teacher compensation discussions are made the same way as any other public policy issue--negotiations in private then approved by the wider audience of the school board and the teachers. All you want to do is make it impossible for teachers to have the same united front as school boards naturally get. That's just a formula for making employees losers.
    Last edited by Rasselas; 15th January 2018 at 07:30 AM.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    There's no way to guarantee what you're suggesting via some formula, because even the formula would have to be negotiated.
    That sentence doesn't make sense. Discussions and negotiations often inform policy, which is then created and put into effect. There's nothing perplexing about this. Government does it continuously.

    And without a union, employees cannot speak with one voice and be heard by the public.
    There is no need to "speak with one voice" and as it stands now they are less heard by the public than they could be, because unionism pushes these discussions into closed door negotiations and actively discourages members from communicating about it to anyone except through the representative in the closed door negotiations. Further, government usually is mandated to demonstrate competitive procurement procedures to show the public they're getting the best deal, and competitive procurement is antithetical to the "one voice" principle. Allowing similar sellers of something to band together and use "one voice" to push the price higher is the opposite of the competitive procurement principle that taxpayers should demand of their government (unless they agree they want their government to be wasteful and corrupt).

    The only thing individual employees can do is express their own particular opinions, which will be haphazardly covered by the press. A coordinated effort at communication always bests a random one, particularly when it's filtered through a press that will may or may not have its own agenda. The result is that employees lose, just as a disorganized football team always loses against one that's united with a strategy.
    This doesn't at all demonstrate what's so impossible about government setting fair labor and compensation standards for public employees.

    I don't know what you mean by "hush-hush." Pretty much all matters of public policy are discussed in private by a small group of people before they are presented to a wider audience. Are you suggesting we do away with the committee system in legislatures and instead insist that all details be debated on the floor? Nothing would ever get done.
    There is no actual concrete good reason why half of all public sector compensation needs to be privately negotiated in 100,000 different private rooms by 100,000 separate bargaining units. This is simple divide-and-conquer strategy that works well for unions only. It lets them pit one against the other while always seeming to find some way to claim that their own bargaining unit is being treated unfairly. This is not "organized" labor, in fact it's impossibly segmented, from a government compensation standards viewpoint.

    As it stands now, the majority of a bargaining unit can support very unfair compensation standards for some of its own members as a bargaining chip in return for treating some other members especially well, and we know this happens. There is no reason to protect this tyranny of the majority within government union bargaining units when we're talking about public employment. We can simply set compensation standards that says public school teachers shall not earn less than x% of the district's median income but not more than y%. That makes more sense than letting a bargaining unit that is 75% long-term tenured teachers sacrificing the other 25% for their own personal benefit. This segmentation and refusal to set universal compensation standards actually allows for severely unfair working standards for some public employees.

    You and I might be able to agree on such a thing between the two of us, but how would we then foist it on everyone else?
    I'm not suggesting you and I team up to foist anything on anyone. What I'm saying is that there is no reason why fair labor and compensation standards cannot simply be set by federal and state governments. Because they already are to a significant degree (e.g., FLSA, OSHA) and we could do more wherever those laws are lacking, particularly for public sector employment. The elected body already has the ultimate say anyway (they don't have to ratify or fund a CBA even if an arbitrator awards it).

    We just let politicians subject themselves to this extremely inefficient charade of public sector collective bargaining as though there is some actual legal force behind it, when there really isn't. Nothing can force union member workers to vote in favor of an employer's last offer, and nothing can force an elected body to accept what the union demands.

    Teacher compensation discussions are made the same way as any other public policy issue--negotiations in private then approved by the wider audience of the school board and the teachers. All you want to do is make it impossible for teachers to have the same united front as school boards naturally get. That's just a formula for making employees losers.
    I want to end the charade that is public sector collective bargaining, but because government has taxing and spending and lawmaking power, and has the ultimate unilateral say over ratification of any collective bargaining agreement anyway, the end of government unionism does not need to create any formula for "making employees losers." This assumption that government employees only ever always lose when a union is not present is bogus. Public employees need to get paid something. They can be paid appropriately (neither too little nor too much). That is possible. Government can set standards that make it possible.

    Of course any union is going to claim the United States government could not possibly be set appropriate standards for labor and compensation. Even if all unions agreed on a standard that was fair, they wouldn't say it, because if we actually granted them that and passed that standard, they would lose the rationalization for their own existence. Unions are not focused on achieving adequate standards for labor generally. They're focused on their own financial and political survival, and they will oppose anything that they feel threatens that, even if it is something that is universally good for both workers and taxpayers.
    Last edited by Neomalthusian; 16th January 2018 at 09:42 AM.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    That sentence doesn't make sense. Discussions and negotiations often inform policy, which is then created and put into effect. There's nothing perplexing about this. Government does it continuously.



    There is no need to "speak with one voice" and as it stands now they are less heard by the public than they could be, because unionism pushes these discussions into closed door negotiations and actively discourages members from communicating about it to anyone except through the representative in the closed door negotiations. Further, government usually is mandated to demonstrate competitive procurement procedures to show the public they're getting the best deal, and competitive procurement is antithetical to the "one voice" principle. Allowing similar sellers of something to band together and use "one voice" to push the price higher is the opposite of the competitive procurement principle that taxpayers should demand of their government (unless they agree they want their government to be wasteful and corrupt).
    All of your arguments here--all of them, come down to one basic premise: government can be counted on to be fair to its employees. Experience tells me this is not at all the case. Government shortchanges employees, fires them just before their pensions kick in, fails to live up to agreements they've already made, and generally makes public employees pawns in their politics. They do this all the time.

    My argument is that public employees deserve some measure of power in their negotiations with their employer, who is more powerful than any other employer. I can give you numerous examples of moments when government employees have been treated with great unfairness. Without a means of gaining some power within the the market for their labor, they are entirely pawns in a game that offers them no opportunity for efficacy in negotiations, except to leave.
    This doesn't at all demonstrate what's so impossible about government setting fair labor and compensation standards for public employees.
    Considering the power of government, why should we expect them to be fair? They don't have to be, particularly when there's no effective way for employees to make their case to the public, while government has all tools for public communication at its disposal.

    There is no actual concrete good reason why half of all public sector compensation needs to be privately negotiated in 100,000 different private rooms by 100,000 separate bargaining units.
    This is actually what you are suggesting, except that your 100K remark is a gross exaggeration. If there is no union, it would be LITERAL.

    This is simple divide-and-conquer strategy that works well for unions only. It lets them pit one against the other while always seeming to find some way to claim that their own bargaining unit is being treated unfairly. This is not "organized" labor, in fact it's impossibly segmented, from a government compensation standards viewpoint.
    Your objection isn't that it's segmented. In fact, you'd like to to be MORE segmented, on a per-employee basis. Your objection is that this arrangement provides employees with some power--power you'd like to deny them.

    As it stands now, the majority of a bargaining unit can support very unfair compensation standards for some of its own members as a bargaining chip in return for treating some other members especially well, and we know this happens.
    And you'd like the employer to be able to do the same thing according to the employer's desires.
    There is no reason to protect this tyranny of the majority within government union bargaining units when we're talking about public employment. We can simply set compensation standards that says public school teachers shall not earn less than x% of the district's median income but not more than y%. That makes more sense than letting a bargaining unit that is 75% long-term tenured teachers sacrificing the other 25% for their own personal benefit. This segmentation and refusal to set universal compensation standards actually allows for severely unfair working standards for some public employees.
    Your argument might make sense if it reflected reality. In my own union, for example, part-time and full-time contingent employees far outnumber tenured faculty. It's that way nearly everywhere in the academy.



    I'm not suggesting you and I team up to foist anything on anyone. What I'm saying is that there is no reason why fair labor and compensation standards cannot simply be set by federal and state governments.
    They could be, but if employees aren't part of that process, why would anyone image it would be fair.
    Because they already are to a significant degree (e.g., FLSA, OSHA) and we could do more wherever those laws are lacking, particularly for public sector employment. The elected body already has the ultimate say anyway (they don't have to ratify or fund a CBA even if an arbitrator awards it).
    But if they don't, the employees can engage in work actions, including strikes. You'd like to take that away from them, making them entirely at the whim of whoever's in charge.

    We just let politicians subject themselves to this extremely inefficient charade of public sector collective bargaining as though there is some actual legal force behind it, when there really isn't. Nothing can force union member workers to vote in favor of an employer's last offer, and nothing can force an elected body to accept what the union demands.
    But the government employer will go on existing. It will collect taxes and provide services. Without a union, the employee's only response is to quit, which is a very steep penalty for not agreeing to whatever the employer chooses to pay.



    I want to end the charade that is public sector collective bargaining, but because government has taxing and spending and lawmaking power, and has the ultimate unilateral say over ratification of any collective bargaining agreement anyway, the end of government unionism does not need to create any formula for "making employees losers."
    If you're a competitor in a game and also the referee, why would you not arrange the rules to give yourself all the advantages?
    This assumption that government employees only ever always lose when a union is not present is bogus. Public employees need to get paid something. They can be paid appropriately (neither too little nor too much). That is possible. Government can set standards that make it possible.
    No one is that unions are perfect, but the question of too much or too little is one that can't be decided by only one party.

    Of course any union is going to claim the United States government could not possibly be set appropriate standards for labor and compensation. Even if all unions agreed on a standard that was fair, they wouldn't say it, because if we actually granted them that and passed that standard, they would lose the rationalization for their own existence. Unions are not focused on achieving adequate standards for labor generally. They're focused on their own financial and political survival, and they will oppose anything that they feel threatens that, even if it is something that is universally good for both workers and taxpayers.
    First, the US government has no authority to "set appropriate standards for labor and compensation" except for its own employees, so that's a non-starter. Again, unions aren't perfect, but the are preferable to the alternative, which gives employees the power of a mouse against an elephant. The elephant is free to toy with the mouse for as long as it might useful, then step on it whenever it squeaks so loudly as to annoy.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    All of your arguments here--all of them, come down to one basic premise: government can be counted on to be fair to its employees. Experience tells me this is not at all the case.
    Unions count on government to staff state labor relations agencies. Unions need governments to intentionally play along with the collective bargaining charade. Unions count on government to recognize its exclusive representation privileges, to not repeal the section of Clayton that exempts unions from anti-trust regulations. The mere existence of unions depends on government. You can't depend this heavily on government's ongoing tolerance and kindness and enabling of labor unions while then also alleging government can't be trusted to do what's right for workers.

    Elected legislative bodies can't be forced to accept and ratify any contract, even if via interest arbitration, even if interest arbitration is called "binding," it really isn't binding. The elected legislative body has the ultimate unilateral say. So this is all pretense and theater. It's not at all necessary.

    Government shortchanges employees, fires them just before their pensions kick in, fails to live up to agreements they've already made, and generally makes public employees pawns in their politics. They do this all the time.
    Then we're all fucked. If we have such bad government, we have no recourse, because government has the ultimate lawmaking and policymaking and taxing and spending authority. Unions have no rightful trump card over government itself. Your argument boils down to saying we need to rely on government to protect and enable unions so that unions can protect workers from government. If government has the goodwill to enable unions which (in theory only) is in the interests of workers, why are you arguing government cannot just directly create policy in the interest of workers?

    My argument is that public employees deserve some measure of power in their negotiations with their employer
    They don't though, and never have and never will, because taxpayers are the employer, and they and their elected legislative representatives have the ultimate say. Unions can't force them to do a single thing. So what you're saying we need is to keep up the pretenses that this is somehow about some sort of "balance of power." It's illusory and people go along with it, but there is no requirement that we do so. If we rely on government's goodwill toward unions in the first place, we can't suddenly turn the other cheek and act like government employers are so ruthless that we need unions. Government itself has the ultimate say about this. Even now, in non-right-to-work-states.

    I can give you numerous examples of moments when government employees have been treated with great unfairness.
    Labor policies address that. We should push for changes to labor policies and standards.

    Without a means of gaining some power within the the market for their labor, they are entirely pawns in a game that offers them no opportunity
    Absolutely bogus, all of that. When work is compensated very very badly, the quality and dedication and duration of the worker is commensurate. Turnover is high, quality sucks, and the taxpayers very quickly pissed that their services aren't working. The characterization of workers as powerless victims without a union is utterly bogus.

    Considering the power of government, why should we expect them to be fair?
    Because compared to private sector employers, the reason we can expect them to be fairer is because 1) we already rely on the laws and policies of government to even tolerate or acknowledge the existence of unions in the first place and 2) government managers are not trying to appeal to shareholders, do not personally profit from cutting costs, and have very little or at least very indirect risk of losing customers.

    They don't have to be, particularly when there's no effective way for employees to make their case to the public, while government has all tools for public communication at its disposal.

    This is actually what you are suggesting, except that your 100K remark is a gross exaggeration. If there is no union, it would be LITERAL.

    Your objection isn't that it's segmented. In fact, you'd like to to be MORE segmented, on a per-employee basis. Your objection is that this arrangement provides employees with some power--power you'd like to deny them.
    It's not a gross exaggeration. There are over 90,000 municipal governments across the nation and municipal government is the most unionized sector of the economy. Then think of all the different school districts. And the public utility companies. Then there are numerous separate bargaining units within every state government. And there is an enormous amount of uniformity and standardization in these bargaining agreements. They very very very often contain the same language demanding the same things for their employees, e.g., termination being for cause and referencing progressive discipline, and countless other things. How many ordinary (non-exempt and non-elected) government jobs are at-will? Almost none. So why not just make this a standard public employment condition? Why have to rehash it every two years in a gazillion separate public sector bargaining agreements across the country? That's the entire point of creating new laws, regulations and standards. If something is going to come up as a topic for dispute over and over and over again, rather than have to rehash it over and over and over again, we have government create a law that draws a line in the sand.

    Every federal policy that declares something is law, it's that way everywhere, because that's the law. The reason we don't have child labor is not because unions are around to object. We don't have child labor because we made it illegal. If we want public employment to be appropriately and fairly compensated, that means not underpaid or overpaid, but appropriately paid, we can simply create labor policies that make it that way, universally and permanently. There is no need for government unions to do this.

    They could be, but if employees aren't part of that process, why would anyone image it would be fair.
    There is no requirement for any union to exist in order for employees to "be part of the process." In fact, some employees are even less able to "be a part of the process" because they're in a union than if they werne't. For example, if their opinion is a minority of their bargaining unit, and even worse, if they're also lower on the seniority latter and the majority opinion has all the seniority, that employee's power is the lowest of any employee anywhere. The rules of the CBA are rigid, they're forbidden from any attempted direct dealing with the employer, and the union constitution usually forbids them engaging in public discourse and dialogue about the union contract terms (unless they're actively striking) or taking any actions that the union perceives against its interests, and so these workers are subservient to the views of the majority of their bargaining unit and have zero individual power, except to leave. They'd have more power if they could work without being forced to be represented by the union.

    But if they don't, the employees can engage in work actions, including strikes. You'd like to take that away from them, making them entirely at the whim of whoever's in charge.
    Often times public employees can't strike because of the nature of the work they do. E.g. in my state, police, corrections, hospital employees, emergency dispatch, and fire protection employees cannot strike. They're called "Class 1" PERA employees and may not strike, ever. Allegedly they are thus entitled to "binding interest arbitration," but as I've said, there is no real such thing, because it is never binding on an elected legislative body to ratify and fund it.

    Again, unions aren't perfect, but the are preferable to the alternative, which gives employees the power of a mouse against an elephant. The elephant is free to toy with the mouse for as long as it might useful, then step on it whenever it squeaks so loudly as to annoy.
    These hostile power dynamics do not really exist in the governmental sector. The people on the other side of the table are flat-salaried government employees that do not benefit from engaging in ruthless employment tactics. We already have numerous labor standards that were created and are still enforced for good reason. How was this possible, if what you're suggesting about the unscrupulous amoral government employer is true? How is that we have any labor standards if government is so inherently untrustworthy regarding employment?
    Last edited by Neomalthusian; 16th January 2018 at 01:53 PM.

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