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A Parent Guide to Teachers’ Unions

How to prepare for the invasion of radical community organizers in your school district.

Paula Bolyard


March 18, 2013 - 1:00 pm

Strongsville students demonstrating in solidarity with their teachers.

The Strongsville Education Association has also demonized the Board, their accusations growing more shrill as the Board refuses to bow to union pressure. The most recent (March 16) post on their website accuses the Board of lying nearly a dozen times and not meeting them to negotiate:

It’s time for [Board members] to put on their big boy pants, stop hiding behind their lies and their lawyer, and personally come to the table in order to settle this strike.

Did I mention they were a little shrill?

In Strongsville, they’ve fluidly blended the demonization with another step in the UniServ book: “Call for round-the-clock negotiations.” The goal is to show the public that the union is working hard and willing to negotiate while the intractable, evil Board is holding up negotiations. In reality, until one side decides to budge, endless meetings and gripe sessions are pointless — it’s all grandstanding.

Union members have a wealth of options at their disposal and are instructed to escalate the process up to and including “Frighten the community and Board” when things “are falling apart.”

Parents in Strongsville must certainly be scratching their heads (and questioning the judgment of the teachers) to read instructions from the SEA on how their children can skip school while skirting the truancy laws:

Truancy laws affects students absent for 10 days or more. If you are concerned about the safety of your child but don’t want to run into truancy issues, take your child in to school on the 10th day, have them counted in attendance, and then remove them from school early.

In a letter sent home to parents, teachers also warned that substitute teachers might not be prepared for an active shooter on campus and would likely not be aware of the child’s food allergies.

Such reckless recommendations and fearmongering from professional educators are breathtaking, but they are par for the Alinsky course.

Rule #9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

Do you notice anything missing from this game plan? These commonly used strike tactics demonstrate no focus on the needs of the children or any concern for their well-being. It’s all about winning. Suddenly, everyone’s favorite teacher morphs into a caricature of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and parents wonder how something like this could have happened in their wonderful community.

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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This thread is mostly the Zeke1 show. We've had this discussion when this first appeared but those comments seem to be lost. Zeke1 is either a naif or a liar in his defense of the National Extortion Association and its affiliates and its sister union the American Federation of Teachers. The Georgia Education Association in right to work, no public employee collective bargaining Georgia is just as much a part of the NEA's political machine as the NEA in unionized Alaska, California, Washington, Michigan, New Yawk, New Joisey, or wherever. NEA can't compel a school district to bargain with it in about half the states nor can it compel dues to be a teacher, but it can sure move dues, pressure teachers to pay them "voluntarily", and send its communist organizers to those right to work states - and it routinely does. The NEA is easily the most powerful organized force in right to work states, no other organization is even close except maybe the trial lawyers. When in a RTW state the NEA says it wants money for "education" and "for the children," what it really means is it wants money for the teachers and it wants politicians in office whose chain it can yank.

I've dealt with them and like most of the big public employee unions they're really, really lousy at looking after individual teachers' rights, but they're really, really good at politics. Zeke1 is kinda right about the need for grievance adjudication and some sort of representation for teachers. Public employers are generally lousy employers with marginal supervision and generally incompetent management. There are no market satisfaction signals to determine whether a manager or supervisor is doing a good job, so supervisors who don't have employee relations problems or who just do what management says without regard to wheter it should be done or not are the ones usually rewarded. For political level management "friend of ..." is usually the only real qualification. So, bad things really can happen to public employees in the non-union environment and even in the union environment if the employee gets cross-threaded with an administration the union backed. That said, NEA and the other big unions don't really do much of that employee representation stuff. They buy a school board or a governor and then they don't have grievances, they have phone calls to the right person. If the employee is on the outs, the union will sh*tcan them in a heartbeat or at most just go through the motions of representation; I've seen it, done it. More than a few times I've had unions throw perfectly winnable cases because the employee was either cross threaded with the union or with an administration the union supported. So, Zeke1's stories about how the union helped stamp out some bad act are the exception, not the rule if the union and the administration are allied.

Anyway, I suspect I'm the only one posting here who's actually dealt with unions in an actual unionized environment. I've never been troubled by them when they were just being unions and representing their members over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment, the legal definition of collective bargaining. I have lots of trouble with them when they virtually abandon their collective bargaining role and become socialist labor parties allied with Democrats for the purpose of having power and looting the taxpayers, and the NEA are far and away the best looters of the taxpayers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For God's sake, my wife and daughter are both teachers. They're both Conservatives/Libertarians, NRA members. Neither go to their union with complaints about management or students; they deal with them on their own. They both put the kids first, and encourage the young men to be be responsible adults, and act like men, not boys. They both but in 11 hour days, if you include after school help, corrections, and calling parents/guardians. Yes, there are complete thieves, and if you look closely, they're almost all administrators, who get new jobs no matter how much they screw up. When teachers win awards or help children or the community, they can't get a two inch article anywhere in any paper. I know, because I have tried to get good things done by teachers in my family publicized, and the only thing the papers want to write about is teachers gone wild, with students or drugs. They rarely, if ever write about award winning teachers. From my experience of dealing with teachers and their unions in my area, about fifteen years, I can state with assurance from my own observations that there are some corrupt and some not corrupt unions, but at a minimum, they all have a corrupt upper echelon. This is about the same as the corporate world. I mean, who at any brokerage house goes to jail? It's always a trader, never the CEO. who got screwed when Obama forced Chrysler to merge with Fiat, not his corporate buddies up the tower, but the line workers. The constant drum beat of teachers being overpaid and underworked spoiled commies is just totally inaccurate. Anyone else with a masters degree who's supposed to form part of society's foundation makes as much or more, and doesn't get beat on constantly by everyone. I mean when was the last time you heard about some fat, lazy CFO with six cars and a 11,000 square foot house getting beat on when he cuts staff to raise stock prices? Never.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Do you approve of the union tactics being used in Strongsville? Would your wife and daughter participate if their unions voted to strike? If they didn't participate in the thuggish tactics (you can read my previous piece for some more details), would they denounce them or stand in solidarity?

Do they pay union dues to the AFT or NEA? Then they're supporting the unions do act like this.

Just because there are great teachers who go the extra mile for their students doesn't mean that we excuse the behavior of the bad ones.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I certainly do not approve of those tactics, and I know they would not. The Taylor law in NYS prevents public servants from striking. Union dues are mandatory as well. NEA is just an arm of the Dem party. I believe it is necessary to put faces to some of the stereotypes being bandied about on this site about union members. Many of us, myself included, see the corruption in our unions, but I having had my own business for ten years prior to getting a govt job with a union card, had to deal with absolutely terrible corporate overlords, who, for example, castigated me for being early to deliver products, making them look bad because they were counting on me being late, and castigated me for having a mustache in Connecticut, back when it was essentially all WASP. I had people hold up payments to me for 60 or 90 days and treat me rudely as well. Since I have been in my govt union job, since 1999, everyone calls me sir, and although we're hated by both the NYTIMES and WSJ, I do not have to worry about some guy with titanium golf clubs deciding to sit on my paycheck for a few months to make a little interest on it. So I believe any institution can be hijacked. I wish we didn't need unions or guns. But unfortunately, an honest day's work is sometimes stolen without pay or pay is delayed, just as people are sometimes mugged.
Teachers in Fla make 1/3 what my wife and daughter make in NYS. You can simply look at who wins all the science awards, and you'll see they generally went to NY public schools. Right to work I believe means right to work cheaply. However, I believe Alinsky was a subversive in the truest sense. It's not black and white.
Finally, I would add that it's about ten local time, and at about 9 my wife was emailing parents regarding their children's progress. Keep in mind that my wife was assaulted by a fourteen year old and had a bone fractured, followed by two surgeries, and her union did nothing, nada for her. The principal didn't want the school to look bad and the girl who assaulted her was whisked out of state to Colorado from NY. This was a wealthy district, too. My wife has written one text book and co-written several others, and lectures on weekends. So her six figures might seem high to some, but if she were for instance a divorce lawyer, she'd be making half a mil, rather than 100k and if she were a bond trader, well, she'd be making 3 mil, and if her company went under, whoever was President at the time would bail it out. So for 100K you get a consummate professional who works many hours and produces students who can be citizens. For 27K you get a babysitter who bangs her students. Union or no, you get what you pay for.
The problem with firing BAD teachers is that the administrators are teachers who couldn't teach. So the fish is rotting from the head back. And as far as firing bad teachers, they do get fired, it just takes a while, like with cops, who get to wait 24 hours before they give a statement unlike everyone else in the country, or politicians who can use drugs, get arrested, crash cars, cheat on college exams, have hookers living in Congress with them, and still keep their jobs.
Some teachers suck. Some cops suck. Some people suck. But the beating up on unions I believe, on this site, is just sour grapes for the most part from people who are jealous of others with better jobs.
Gosh, that was too long.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are arguments to be made about unions in the private sector, especially for those stuck on the left side of the bell curve.

Imagine you have a company that is the primary employer for a town or region. Most of the jobs this company provides are low skill positions. The pool of people who can do that job far exceeds the number of jobs available. The company in this case has all the power and can basically run its plant like a salt mine. Without other companies competing for those same low skill workers, there is little incentive to treat them well. Some companies will treat their low ability workers well anyway. Others will not.

A union, even a somewhat corrupt one, makes sense for these workers. It allows them to negotiate with the company from a position of strength rather than a position of weakness. Provided the union is not TOO powerful, it will do its job of ensuring low skill workers aren't abused. At the end of the day this is a good thing.

Educated professionals, which schoolteachers rarely pass up the chance to proclaim themselves as being, shouldn't need a union because they are (in theory) NOT low competence menial grunts.

When someone has valuable knowledge and skills that the average person does not possess, that person is what is known as independently employable. He or she will be able to pick and choose where they work and for whom, and even be able to work for themselves. Employers must compete for the valuable services such a person can provide. I'm an IT professional. If I become unhappy where I am working, I can find another job. I have valuable skills that Joe Blow does not.

That teachers have to belong to unions makes me wonder just how valuable their skills truly are. A good teacher, in a free labor market, would have their choice of where they wanted to work and would even be able to make a good living as a private tutor. A bad teacher would be out of a job.

But that isn't how things are. Because everything is unionized, good teachers and bad teachers are treated the same. Bad teachers get transferred around to different schools, but they don't get fired. At worst, they get paid a full salary to keep a chair warm in a Rubber Room.

Add to this the many barriers to entry into the labor market for teachers. It doesn't take a master's degree to teach children how to read or count. Yet that is precisely what teachers are expected to obtain if they hope to keep their jobs. They don't have to start with one, but they do have to get one after so many years. Certification regimes make sense for doctors and other professionals where incompetence costs lives or vast sums of money. They don't makes sense for other professions and are generally proof that the skills required to do a job are so common that the potential labor pool is vast.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are references to it in several books and articles documenting union activities, including the link I posted above about the Ravenna teacher's strike and this report from the Government Union Review:

Also, check out "Alinsky for Teacher Organizers," written in 1972. This lays out the strategies in the Uniserv manual in narrative form. For example:

"This corresponds to the idea of training people by making the other side insult or assault your people so that they can learn what the other side is really like. This is very much a tactic of Alinsky's. In fact, getting the superintendent to insult or to assault your people, he would regard as of higher value than ten weeks of formal training. The tactical essence, Alinsky says, is to figure out what reaction you can provoke that will best suit your needs."

You can read a preview of the e-book here:

And lest you think this is a thing of the past, in 2010, the PA State Education Association included this in their union rep training:

"We will develop skills that were taught to community organizers by the Midwest Academy and before that, Saul Alinsky, who organized the Back of the Yards in Chicago in 1939."

Not to mention the fact that the Strongsville strike seems to be following the Uniserv manual nearly point-by-point.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oops, this comment was in reply to Mackle, below!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While the links build upon the relationship between Alinsky and the NEA, this isn't really at issue. It's quite open and well documented.

What is questionable is the link to a document that purports to be a Uniserv manual. Is this a copy of the 1981 Uniserv manual that was obtained in Ravenna Ohio?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Uniserv document looks fraudulent. Does anyone know how and when was it obtained?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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