Now we know why unionists were fighting so hard for a federal “card check” law. Organizers can unionize private and public employees, forcing them to pay hundreds in union dues, before they even know anything about it.
That’s the situation at the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Orleans, Massachusetts.
Last week news broke that the reputable charter school was the second in Massachusetts to be organized by the American Federation of Teachers.
Various sources indicated that the unionization effort was somewhat less than forthright. Several teachers complained that they were never informed about the process and were never asked to vote on the issue.
“The union effort was coordinated by group of teachers and staff that did not include all employees,” one teacher wrote. “In fact, a number of employees were not approached at all and found out, quite by accident, that a union had been formed without our input.
“A full vote of the faculty and staff was never taken and plans to unionize went ahead, anyway.”
Unionization without a vote of the staff? That sounds like the nasty little practice of “card check,” which allows pro-union employees to gang up on co-workers and pressure them to sign a union membership card. Once 50 percent of them do so, the union is automatically certified.
There are no private ballots involved in the process. Those who refuse to sign are exposed to all the pressure and intimidation that the union can muster. Under those conditions, it probably doesn’t take very long to gain 50 percent approval.
Our research confirmed that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill in 2007 making “card check” union organizing legal for charter schools.
So now an outstanding charter school has been transformed into a den of collective bargaining through a back-door coup. The longtime director of the school reacted by resigning and transferring her own children to a different school. Parents of other students began to wonder if they should do the same.
We have to wonder if this would have happened if the school staff had been allowed to privately vote on certification, without union supporters looking over their shoulders. We will never know.
We also have to wonder if the infiltration of Lighthouse will spell eventual doom for the small K-8 school. That is, after all, the stated goal of the AFT.
Infiltrate and destroy
Charter schools have always been perceived as a mortal threat by teachers unions.
That’s because they offer an attractive non-union alternative to traditional public schools. Without expensive collective bargaining agreements, seniority rules and constant tension between teachers and administrators, charters have the flexibility and means to be innovative with their programs.
That type of innovation has allowed many charter schools to flourish academically, which makes them popular with the public. As more children enroll in charter schools, less state money flows to traditional schools and their unions.
Money is the alpha and the omega for teachers unions. The well-being of students is not a consideration.
In the beginning the unions reacted by fighting the establishment of charter schools. When that didn’t work, they started pressing state governments to cap the number of charter schools.
Now that isn’t working, either, so the unions have changed their strategy. Their current goal is to infiltrate charter schools, organize their teachers and change the very nature of the schools. With charters having to face the type of pressures and costs created by unions, the theory is that they will stop being special, and stop attracting parents and students.
Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, summed up the union strategy in a recent newsletter:
“Organizing charters will strengthen our power and influence as a union. It is reasonable to believe that as more charters are faced with having to be more like traditional public schools in terms of accountability, wages and benefits, due process, and paying into the retirement system, many of them will dry up because now they will not be as profitable, thus not as appealing to those seeking to authorize them.”
In other words, infiltrate and destroy. Hear more of Johnson’s disdain for charter schools in Episode 8 of “Kids Aren’t Cars.”
The union infiltration effort has been spotty around the nation so far. But it’s clearly gaining steam.
In Chicago, a union consortium that includes the AFT has managed to organize 12 of the 85 charters in the city, and hopes to unionize them all.
The Chicago City Council is even considering a resolution encouraging unionization of charter schools.
According to a New York Times article regarding the Chicago situation, “(Charter school) administrators and operators are battling back, arguing that unionization could undermine the basic premise of the charter school model: that they are more effective because they are free of the regulations and bureaucracies that govern traditional public schools.”
Don’t let it happen in your school
In Cape Cod, one local news service is clearly worried that the union will destroy a very good school.
“Since 1995, Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School has been a jewel in the crown of Cape Cod public education,” wrote CapeCodToday.com in an editorial published last week. “The school has a reputation for innovative teaching styles, school-wide projects and individualized instruction.
“The school turns out successful, enthusiastic learners who bring an impressive skill set and love of learning to whichever high school they attend upon graduation from Grade 8.
“All that came to an end when it was announced that the teachers had arranged union representation by the American Federation of Teachers. Surprise turned to concern and then to outrage as Cape Codders first expressed doubts about the school’s ability to maintain its unique culture under the thumb of a labor union and then learned of a possible schism among the faculty over the way AFT was brought into the school.”
“Sadly, with the union’s lengthy contracts, contributions to partisan politics, and their ability to create an adversary relationship between faculty and staff, there seems to be no faster way of stifling the progressive environments of charters than to unionize.
“Teachers and administrators need to be mindful that the union will come knocking, especially in times of transition, and inevitably undo the innovative culture of their beloved charter school. Don’t let it happen in your school.”
Beckner suggested that his organization is a solid alternative for any group of teachers that desires a degree of unity, without all the bombast and complications of full unionization.
“What teachers should know is that they have a non-union option in the Association of American Educators, the country’s premier national alternative,” Beckner wrote. “AAE supports teachers, both in charter and traditional public schools in all 50 states, providing professional benefits like liability insurance and legal counsel at a fraction of the cost.
“The non-union option provides a modern approach to teachers without the stifling contracts or partisan politics associated with the union.”
“If you strike a match and put your finger in, common sense tells you you’re going to burn your finger.”
-AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s amused response to the death of subcontractor Eddie York, who decided it was important to support his wife and three children and crossed picket lines to get to his job. He was shot in the head as he left the job site to go home.
AFL-CIO Yeah, You can call that Socialist
by Bret Jacobson
Good news! We’re all one step closer to being able to call socialism by its name! According to a Bloomberg report, AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka “said he’d like to see the U.S. become more like a European nation that provides pensions and health care for all its citizens. He said he is accustomed to criticism and doesn’t mind if conservatives call that socialism.”
Trumka added that “Being called a socialist is a step up for me.”*
Glad we’ve cleared that up!
It was so confusing to figure out another name for a union movement that has been pushing socialized medicine, cradle-to-grave entitlements, government monopoly of the school system, European-style regulation, higher taxes on working Americans to fund high government-employee salaries, auto bailouts to save union (and union boss) jobs, killing secret ballots in favor of card check, eroding private property rights, and more.
* This is a true statement when one recalls that Trumka blamed a victim for his own death at the hands of militant union strikers
Most don't realize that unionism isn't these days so much about unions vs, management, but union members vs. non union members. The unions prevent non union members from accepting job offers with lower wages than the union members. This is anti competitive. Non union members may be willing to enter into a voluntary contract with management to accept the same job for lower wages.
If companies collude with each other to lower wages, or collude to reduce output and raise prices, that's immoral and illegal. Why isn't it immoral to for union workers to collude against non union members?
Jeez, your unions sound worse than the mafia protection rackets.
Join us or we'll screw you into the ground.
Join us and we'll screw you into the ground anyway. !!!!!!
Over here, London Transport Unions have recently brokered a No Strike deal for when the Olympics are on. IIRC That involves a pay rise and a £500 bonus but there is still a get out clause that allows them to strike.
Join us or we'll screw you into the ground.
Join us and we'll screw you into the ground anyway. !!!!!!
Well, the reality of the situation is that you pretty well summed it up.
For once, I pretty much see eye-to-eye with Jason on this. Unions certainly had their place in the world a hundred years ago, when miners and railroad brakemen were considered expendable and factory workers labored in truly deplorable conditions. But these days, OSHA (equivalent to your HSE) and the modern civil law system with its many punitive remedies have rendered the original charter of the labor union obsolete.
So instead, they have evolved into a rather different entity- they are in some ways comparable to political parties, in that they have a considerable interest simply to be in power, regardless of what (if anything) they accomplish for their constituents. But more to the point, unions simply no longer serve the purpose for which they were originally intended, and instead are used as levers for ensuring that money flows in some directions and does not flow in others. So, as an individual worker, one is often faced with the choice between being forced to pay dues to join the union (typically several hundred dollars per year, up to or even over $1,000 per year in some industries), or being unable to work in certain trades, or in certain buildings.
What is even more asinine is that in some areas which are "union controlled", if one objects to joining a union (say, on religious or moral grounds), then in order to work, you are forced to pay a "nonassociation fee" directly to the union. That's right- they are legally able to strong-arm even people who do not wish to join the union into paying money to the union, for which they receive absolutely no benefit whatsoever.
It's a sad state of affairs.
But the thing that really kills me is the sort of industries that have unions nowadays. Everybody had heard of teacher's unions and electrician's unions, and that sort of thing I can almost understand as there's at least some degree of professional regulation required. But you know who else is unionized around here? Grocery store clerks. I **** you not. When I go to the supermarket, the pimply teenager stuffing my groceries into a bag is a member of a Union- the United Food And Commercial Workers, to be specific.
How in the hell did that one ever get off the ground? So far as I am aware, no grocery store clerk has ever had to shovel coal into a furnace for 18 hours a day or work next to an open pit of molten steel without so much as a guard rail around it. And yet these folks somehow managed to weasel their way into a system of collective bargaining, pension funds, and 2x-3x minimum wage for what has got to be one of the least skilled jobs on the planet.
I think we need another Margaret Thatcher, she told the unions where to put it.
The only UK union that I would support are for the nurses, but I'm not even too sure of that considering the state of the NHS.
Bob Crowe of the RMT seems to think he's in charge of London Transport and he's constantly holding Londoners and the government to ransom, threatening strikes ***** nilly. A tube driver might get caught drunk as a skunk whilst operating a train and get the sack, Mr Crowe will get him re-instated, get everyone a pay rise and a bigger annual bonus. On top of that his record is kept clean
All these union people seem to want to be another Jimmy Hoffa, just wish they would all disappear too.
Unions are legal mafias. Profiteering parasites bleeding off the working class, while dumbing them down at the same time.
I am surprised people, esp lawyers, haven't sued states for the unconstitutional practices of mandating union membership, like Wisconsin. It is absolutely unconstitutional for a government to require union membership be it public or private.
I had a couple union jobs during my youth. The first one wasn't bad, the union rep was decent, but regular members complained about absolutely everything, so the credibility of the program was diluted. The second job, even if you were a union member, only the "senior" union members received any help. The union reps could have given a crap about anyone else. I wasn't a member in the first job, I was a member for a very short period of time in the second job. The union reps in the second job were the laziest, whiniest, most slovenly dudes I'd ever met at up to that time, yet they had a seriously entitled attitude.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam affixed his signature on House Bill 130 and Senate Bill 113, ending collective bargaining and giving local school boards the full authority to operate their districts in the manner they choose.
There are people whose job is to push the buttons in the elevator in some places. You can't push them yourself. They are union workers. The unions have regulations in place that require the existence of the elevator operators or the elevators cannot be used.
...and taking 20 smoke breaks a day while 'punching out' with plenty of OT.
I maybe a liberal leaning Massachusetts boy but, Unions NEED to be done with.
I've worked a couple 'union jobs' through HS and college - it was quite depressing being reprimanded for working 'too hard'.
There were grocery clerks making 26 dollars an hour plus time and a half on Sundays - 39 dollars an hour, 52 if it was a holiday.
Heard today that Bob Crowe lives in a "council" house.
That means his rent is subsidised by the tax payer and most of the maintenance is also paid for. What right has he to live in a council house whilst earning a six figure salary ?????
At the same time there is a council house shortage for the underpaid and terminally unemployed lazy gits.
The Ohio Education Association will assess active members $54 apiece and support-staff members $25 to generate $5 million as fuel for a referendum to repeal the state’s new collective-bargaining law.
Basically the Ohio Education Association (OEA) convinced union teachers to get together and agree all teachers should pay the union more because teachers are underpaid. Genious. What a good thing they got going; the union takes dues from teachers, to elect their bosses and pay their own salaries, and boy are they generous with their own salaries.
A “Labor Studies Curriculum for Elementary Schools,” entitled “The Yummy Pizza Company,” takes up to 20 classroom hours over a two-week period. Important concepts in the 10 lessons, such as the value of work and money management, are critical components, but are quickly overshadowed by the fact that 40% of the curriculum is about forming Pizza Makers Union Local 18. That’s right – the program is focused on teaching kids to unionize.
Art lessons are incorporated into the curriculum. Students are assigned the task of designing a union logo and membership cards. Math is also a focus. Part of the lesson involves calculating “union dues as a percentage of wages.”
But the lesson doesn’t end with forming the union. What’s next? Contract negotiations, of course! Yes, elementary kids are then taught the finer points of collective bargaining. Members of the Pizza Makers Union may “vote to accept offer, negotiate further or strike.”
The next lesson covers “Unions in the real world,” where “Students will learn about a real union and how it helped its members,” as well as “some labor history and a few prominent labor leaders.”
Kids are then encouraged to interview their parents about whether or not they belong to a labor union. Additionally, students will “act out the life of a labor leader.” One wonders how students will manage to depict the thuggery that union bosses have become famous for.
One teacher's account:
“At this point, I decided, as the Curriculum stipulates, to explore the down side of management – labor relations.”
So he decided to cut students’ pay in the classroom Yummy Pizza shop.
“This is where the lesson became reality. A storm of protest arose, and many of the students decided to follow the example of Cesar Chavez (who we were studying) and go on strike. Twenty-one of the twenty-seven students present that day voted to strike, and strike they did. With my few faithful scabs, I tried to make pizza that next day. Strikers kept coming over to them, trying to convince them to walk out. Three did, and I was left with only three helpers. When we went downstairs to the yard to see our pizza cookies, things got uglier. Picketers walked back and forth in front of our stand, strikers came up and sneezed on the cookies, and told the other kids not to buy them and a scuffle broke out over a sign.”
another teacher's account:
“For over a decade I’ve been teaching my six-, seven-, and eight-year-old students to strike against me.”
“…I give workers hints, like reading Si Se Puede by Diana Cohn, about the Los Angeles Janitor’s strike, or encouraging them to engage in a tug of war with me over a jump rope in which they all have to join together to bring me down. One year, students snuck into the classroom and made picket signs out of construction paper, masking tape, and poles made of linked markers or meter sticks. I’ve found it’s best to demote supervisors to a non-managerial position just as we go to lunch, so they will feel a sense of solidarity with workers, instead of terrorizing them into complacency, as nearly happened this year.
“Once workers realize I’m powerless before their united action, they immediately overthrow all class rules. They scream until I surrender. After the class quiets down, I quickly explain that some rules exist to benefit the boss, the others, for the good of all. They ratify each rule anew, and have consistently thrown out the new contract as benefiting only their employer.”
Thousands of licensed Minnesota day care providers may soon become unionized at the stroke of Governor Dayton’s pen via executive order as an increasingly contentious, yet largely unknown, organizing campaign apparently nears an end, according to opponents.
The effort to organize the approximately 12,000 licensed home-based daycare providers goes back at least five years. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) appear to be working in different counties throughout the state to form two separate unions: Child Care Providers Together-AFSCMEand SEIU-Kids First. The unions have patterned the drive after similar campaigns in other states that targeted providers with clients that receive state childcare subsidies.
The process does not involve a secret ballot or a vote, but rather a controversial method called card check. Organizers go door-to-door to childcare providers on the job asking them to sign cards that give the union collective bargaining rights. The unions set out to collect signatures of more than half of the available providers or approximately 3,000 signed cards apiece. After the cards are certified, it is believed Governor Dayton will be asked to sign an executive order designating AFSCME and SEIU as collective bargaining units to negotiate with the state. In addition to personal contributions made by influential union leaders, AFSCME and SEIU PACs contributed $14,000 to Dayton’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
“Just about everybody we have spoken to has said they were not told by signing that card they were supporting a union,” said Jennifer Parrish, a Rochester provider who’s leading opposition to the union. “The main theme seems to be people are being told they can sign up for more information or be put on a mailing list.”
Jackie Seifert said that’s what happened to her when a young woman knocked on the door of her daycare business in Rochester.
“She never said she was a union representative and she had no identification as far as a name badge or jacket or any of that,” Seifert said. “It was lunch time when she came and I was busy getting things ready for the kids and she asked me to sign this card for more information.”
Only later, Seifert said, did she learn the woman was a SEIU organizer. She was dismayed to find that the fine print on the card she signed grants the union representation for the purposes of collective bargaining on her behalf.
“I about died I was so embarrassed. I had been had, that was basically how I felt because I was misinformed,” Seifert said.
Seifert demanded and received her signed card back from SEIU. AFSCME appears to have reached its quota of a majority of signed cards ready for certification, after which “yes” cards cannot be rescinded.
Neither AFSCME nor SEIU union representatives returned repeated calls from the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. In an online interview with providers opposed to the union and posted at childcareinfo.com, the lead organizers for AFSCME and SEIU defended their volunteers and said they received training in best practices.
In other states, daycare providers are deemed employees of the state for purposes of the collective bargaining process. Tom Copeland, a Twin Cities attorney and childcare business expert who supports the organizing drive, says the legal step doesn’t mean the self-employed providers would actually work for the state.
“They’re not an employee of the state. They don’t lose their self-employee control, the state has nothing to say about how they operate, what they charge or what rules they adopt,” Copeland said. “It’s only around negotiating higher subsidy rates and perhaps changes in those regulations and perhaps a better system of grievances and licensing rules, that’s it.”
Licensed providers who oppose unionization have mounted an on-line petition drive to gather enough signatures to present to Governor Dayton before he takes potential action. Governor Dayton’s office did not respond to FFM’s email requests for comment on the issue.
“Do I think he’d sign it?” Copeland said. “I think he would and I think the unions think he would.”
“As a small business owner it’s my right to have my own voice and not be covered under this union and to not have to financially support a union that I don’t believe is going to benefit me or my business,” Jennifer Parrish said. “I’m very confident that if this went to a secret ballot vote where every licensed provider got to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that we’d prevail.”
Home-based childcare provider unions are operating in fourteen states. Yet the union formed in Michigan by the United Auto Workers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was recently cut off from receiving mandatory dues by state authorities. The Child Care Providers Together Michigan union effort led to lawsuits over designating home-based childcare workers as state employees and deducting dues from subsidies for low-income families. Providers recently reached a settlement to preclude the state of Michigan from tying union membership to state childcare subsidies in the future. A separate class action lawsuit has been filed against union officials on behalf of childcare providers by theNational Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, seeking repayment of nearly $4 million of dues collected since 2008.