Friday, February 18, 2011

It's in the dictionary, between "shirt" and "syphilis"...

Dear Public Sector Employees,

Back in the day, the rallying cry "Teachers make less than garbage truck drivers!" was sure to elicit sympathy from your fellow Americans. That was before we all had to take part-time gigs loitering inside the entrance at Wal-Mart to keep the wolf from the McMansion door. Nowadays, as many as a quarter of your neighbors are just going to grumble "What are you griping about? At least you have a job. With benefits, no less."


Bram said...

You have a very good-paying job and the whole f*^king summer off! And I pay for it.

McVee said...

There was a time when you took a state or gov job not for the pay but for the bennies. Somewhere down the line that has changed. Listen, I'm not opposed to paying a good wage to someone who has EARNED it but this crap where you get auto double COLA raises and secret negotiations etc. has gotta end. As public servants your raises should be voted on by the people. Not set by admin who are in the same fracking union. No conflict of interest there. Lastly let me explain it this way:
Your reply that we should raise my taxes to pay for your golden goose egg... um no.
So here, my advice... take the modest hit, be happy you have a job.
K? Oh, and do it for the KIDS.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Reagan's solution to the air traffic controllers' strike comes to mind...

Anonymous said...

Damn it Jake, you beat me to it.

Imagine the stunned silence from this crowd...and the cheers from grads...when they get the news that they're all fired and the entire university graduating class of 2010/2011 is hired to take their places?

And they could NOT do a worse job.

This whole scenario is coming soon to Fla too...I've got a little anecdote about this that is almost beyond belief; I'll try to tell it here later today.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

AT: That would be amusing to watch, wouldn't it?

I'm also in favour of all the teachers who dragged their students to the protests with them - when they should have been in school - being charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor". One conviction on that charge, and they'll never teach again, anywhere. Instant career-ender.

staghounds said...

No- "The Madison Metropolitan School District canceled classes for the third day Friday, because of anticipated staff absences."

And so since school was cancelled, the teachers didn't have to show up and can't be disciplined- or not be paid for- their absences.


spam said...

I'm not opposed to 'collective bargaining' on an ideological grounds, people have the right to associate and to make pacts with one another to support each other in negotiations with their employers. What I do object to are laws that inhibit the employer from calling their bluff.

As for these guys... it must be nice to be able to simply walk out of work to go protest, while the taxpayers who pay their salaries are stuck in the office and unable to voice their opinions.

perlhaqr said...

Dangit, that last one from 'spam' was me. Forgot I was logged into my "spam trap" account.

WV: 'handl' -- Yes, yes, I was using the wrong handl, I get it. ;)

Bram said...

spam - I'm not either. But a union boss negotiating with a politican bought with campaign contributions isn't bargaining. It's a conspiracy to rob the taxpayers. Even FDR knew Public Employee Unions were a terrible idea.

og said...

Garbage workers: Removing useless detritus from our lives, and transporting it to a place of safe disposal. Teachers: Removing useless and demonstrably wrong socialist data from discredited literature and transporting it to a place of disposal in the nations youth.

yep, garbagemen do a more importand and useful job.

aczarnowski said...

Delinquency of a minor might still apply. Or kidnapping. Did those teachers get off site permission from each parent before taking their kids off school grounds (on what turned out to be a non-school day)?

Jon said...

I was trying to make the point with a couple of my liberal teacher friends that just because they're teachers shouldn't make them immune to pay cuts, in tough economic times, when private sector employees are taking pay cuts and/or losing their jobs.
They absolutely didn't get it, and turned it into the usual rant about how it's "sustaining systemic racism" (in Washington State?), and "children, elderly and the disabled are always to first to get cut".
There's no way to argue with a liberal, they have "faith" in a whole different reality than the rest of us live in.

Dave_H said...

Garbage men are at least completely successful at their appointed task. I can't remember the last time they failed to get my stuff on a scheduled trash day.

Anonymous said...

The solution is simple: lay people off until you get the budget cuts you need. Teachers who refuse to work in a room with 45 students can quit; there are plenty of new teachers to take their place.
When I was a child, the factory my father worked at fell on hard times. The union voted for everyone to work a 32 hour week, instead of 40, so nobody would get laid off. Today, the union would strike and burn the place down before they gave up a dollar.

John Stephens said...

I wish I could believe that all these politicians going against public service unions were doing so out of principle. Cynic that I am, all I see is two packs of vultures squabbling over a taxpayers carcass.

Heather said...

Check out some of the emails going around:

I was at a union meeting the other day. In the past five years or so they've changed the retirement plan up here to get rid of pensions for new teachers. Obviously that didn't go over well. One person was sitting at the table next to mine, ranting about how no one will ever be able to afford to retire now unless they - *gasp* - save their own money. THE HORROR!

Wolfwood said...

I'm a state-level prosecutor and teachers make more than I do. I'm now curious how much the local garbage truck drivers make.

Matt said...

About a year before i got laid off, the boss made everyone take 1 day a week off and reduced our pay accordingly. I had no problem with that because at least i still HAD a job.

At the same time the public sector employees here in Marylandistan were complaining because they were "only" getting a 5% raise instead of a 7% raise. Needless to say I learned the full flavor of contempt on that day.

But then again I've never thought much of unions in general. The local Dresser Wayne employees went on strike about 15 years ago. Guess what's on the site of the plant now ? Yup, an empty field (after Dresser shut it down and bulldozed it).

My grandmother spent most of her adult life working the line in a chicken processing plant. She told me one of the happiest days of her life was getting moved up to management so she didn't have to belong to the union anymore.

Anonymous said...

So anyway, like I said above Fla's new gov is wielding that tax sword like he said he would; he sold the state's planes and uses his own, and one of his first big decisions a few days ago was to tell fedgov to keep their pre-approved 2.4 bil for a boondoggle of a HSR system from Tampa to Orlando. You should hear the howls from the Dims and some don't turn down free money! Never mind the strings attached, the required state contribution for which no funds exist, and future operating costs guaranteed to exceed revenue...that's for our kids and grandkids to worry about along with the baggage from the bailouts, etc.

Anyway, I came face-to-face with the absurdity of the Florida State Retirement System a few months ago when an old buddy with the local Sheriff's office who was planning to retire 12/31 with 25 years on patrol and investigations and who has talked with me for years about wanting to start a gun and pawn shop after retirement, had a pre-exit chat with his union rep.

He came to me and said the guy showed him that if he entered the state's so-called DROP program and stayed on the job for five more years, he would have an additional 500K in the bank in addition to earnings and his existing retirement...and asked me what he should do.

Well, he's a friend so obviously I told him to stay put and take the "free" money. He says, "But I'm so sick of that place, I don't know if I can do it." I knew what he meant, he was on the losing side of an election six years ago that swept the only elected Dem in the county into the Sheriff's chair...and paid for it by being yanked out of criminal investigations and stuck in the evidence room. But I told him, dude, you can do five years in the damn jail down there for half a mil...take the drop! And so he did.

That hurt me; I was looking forward to being back in the business as a silent investment partner and having access to an FFL without it being in my own name, allowing me to more aggressively buy/sell nice vintage iron to complement the gold/silver/coin business that I do through my son's vintage jewelry store. But I put myself in his shoes and advised him to do what I know I would do myself in that situation; after all protecting/providing for my family is job 1.

But Gov. Scott is now looking at that state retirement system, or should I say redistribution system, that is not only one of the most "generous" in the nation but one of only a couple that require NO CONTRIBUTION FROM THE EMPLOYEE, and he wants cops, teachers, etc. to kick in 5% toward their own retirement. Oh my God, from the howls you'd think he'd killed the whole program and used the money to buy crack.

The perversion of public employment into an extension of the culture of not only entitlement but *perpetual* entitlement is way out of hand. And while Scott remains unproven, he's off to a good -and absolutely necessary- start. If that means shutting some branches of gov down, busting some unions, maybe even ultimately but God forbid, busting some caps? Then that is just what will have to happen, because what's going on right now is not sustainable, and there's a lot more Wis's and Fla's out there.


The Armed Canadian said...

Let me get this straight: They're screaming about having to put in 5% of their earnings into retirement plans and 12% towards their health insurance. How is that any different than anyone else in corporate America in the private sector?

They ought to be grateful on the retirement side. If they structure it like a 401(k), that money is theirs. If the state decides the change the rules on pension funding and leave you high-and-dry after 20-30 years, at least that money is yours in trust they can't touch. I am VERY VERY happy my 401(k) earnings are mine. Short of the Fed deciding it would make a wonderful revenue source before I retire and pay taxes on it, the state, unions or local politicians cannot get their hands on it.

I like watching those balances grow. It isn't hard. If you want 100K per year in retirement, do the math and contribute like anyone else.

Hell, they ought to be doubly happy for having to chip in only 5% of their own funds on the premise the state will provide the rest. I'm fortunate my employer matches my first 6%. The other 19% of my retirement contribution comes out of my pocket.

Anonymous said...

Well Well Well!! I think doing those cicil sevants just like Regan did the air traffic contollers is what needs to be done!! They get off with too much pay and way too much bennys for what they are suppose to be PUBLIC SERVENTS!~! Show them the door!


BGMiller said...

Based on the level of intelligence I've encountered among those just entering the job force I would suggest that a great many of these teachers have failed to perform their duties in a satisfactory manner.

Quit churning out morons and I'll happily sign off on a raise.

WV: tatas (I swear before God and three responsible witnesses it is) Some may get their tatas in a twist at my take on this, or any, situation.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"Based on the level of intelligence I've encountered among those just entering the job force I would suggest that a great many of these teachers have failed to perform their duties in a satisfactory manner."

I'd have to agree with you on that.

D.W. Drang said...

Saw it pointed out elsewhere that the US Constitution guarantees the states a republican form of government, and that, by running of to Illinois, the Democrats in Wisconsin's state congress have denied the people of the Badger State that form of government.

jimbob86 said...

"There was a time when you took a state or gov job not for the pay but for the bennies. Somewhere down the line that has changed."

Not only that, but public sector jobs were pretty much secure: regardless of how the economy went, taxes never went down. If there was a "budget shortfall", the gubmint just borrowed more, banking on better times to bring more revenues....

The problem is that now, the private sector folks without the huge bennies are having to take pay cuts (if they have a job at all!) to pay these sinecured fat cats's pensions and medical bennies.... and tax revenues are falling. We as a country are broke, and the public sector employees have been used to having the political clout to set the rules..... the game is over, now: either they give in, or the system collapses. As brutal as that prospect would be for me and mine, it would almost be worth it to see professional voters go hungry....

Rob said...

I wonder if the laws in Wisconsin mirrored my native Nevada's with regards to the mandatory number of days the school must be open? If so, any time the school shuts down for any reason, such as for a snow day or other emergency, it must be made up for at the end of the school year. So if the school shut down for a week for whatever reason, summer vacation would be postponed for a week in order to make up for it.

If that is so, perhaps someone should let the kids in on it. I would guess that instead of joining the teachers, they'd organize a counter-demonstration.

Ian Argent said...

I have always been entirely unsurprised that garbagemen make more than teachers. They have dirty jobs in unpleasant conditions, with difficult hours and in all weather.

Teachers have to deal with angry parents - that's about it.

Pumice said...

I am a teacher of 23 years. I have not received a pay raise in years and this year because of the California budget crisis I was handed about a 3% cut. When I look at the unemployment I am grateful to still have a job.

I would suggest that you not allow the elite media to portray the teachers of the country as the scapegoats for the poor economy. I have paid into my retirement plan the same amounts that non-public employees have paid. I have had large chunks taken out of my check for health insurance since I started teaching. Just because a bunch of spoiled brats in a lefty state have a tantrum does not mean that everyone in a classroom is a parasite.

You think just anyone can walk into a classroom and deal with a bunch of kids who have welfare mentalities and think you are supposed to do everything for them? I have 7th graders who can't read and don't care. This is my fault?

If parents would start raising their kids instead of expecting the state to do it a lot of the problems would go away. As it is, public education is the cheapest babysitting you will ever find. Do the math. Divide the number of kids and the number of hours a teacher deals with them and it is less expensive than the kid down the block.

If you think it is so easy, you are welcome to give it a try. The dropout rate is high enough that I am sure you can get a position. As for the three months off in the summer, many teachers work other jobs to try and pay their bills.

Is this a great country, or what?

Anonymous said...

Pumice: I nor likely anyone here would disagree with anything you have said...I know for sure there are many very qualified, dedicated, struggling, and frustrated teachers out daughter is one of them.

The problems, as you have noted, are systemic. And the money is there; as you say, do the math. Take the entire public education budget of Cali and divide by the number of students in the system. That is an amount, if there were not interminable layers of bureaucracy, waste, greed, stupidity, and outright larceny, to support a quality education for every child.

And the answer is for instructors like you to enter the field of private education and join the effort to allow the money taken by gov for schooling to be used at the discretion and choice of the families themselves. I hope that will be your choice as opposed to quitting in anger, exhaustion, and defeat; the children and this country need you.


Divemedic said...

The cuts to employee benefits are not being done to save money. The state of Florida for example, is asking its employees to take a huge tax cut, claiming that they are broke.

Yet, the same politicians are building new sports arenas in Orlando and Miami, so billionaire team owners can have a free building in which their multi-millionaire employees can work.

I have said it before, and I say it again here: there is no functional difference between Dems and Republicans. The only real difference is in who they give the government cheese that they stole from someone else.

staghounds said...

Pumice, if I felt that way about my job I'd quit.

"I have 7th graders who can't read and don't care. This is my fault?"

Yes, it is. They have had seven years of your cohorts. Are you failing the illiterates? Tracking down who failed to teach them and trying to get them fired? Refusing to accept them as students?

And dare I say it, are you teaching them to read?

"You think just anyone can walk into a classroom and deal with...

It appears from your illiterate seventh graders that is exactly what happened.

"If you think it is so easy, you are welcome to give it a try. "

No, my History BA and JD are insufficient credentials to teach six year olds the alphabet. I'd have to buy another degree from some teachers.

"cheapest babysitting you will ever find"?

No, I'm child free. I can find a baby sitter for zero.

"If parents would start raising their kids instead of expecting the state to do it..."

The Educationist industry has been demanding more and more authority over children since it began. Who do you think wanted compulsory education in the first place?

staghounds said...

And, seriously, a three per cent pay cut? An actual decrease in pay, not just an undelivered raise?

I'm calling "trust but verify" on that one.

Prove it.

Holy f@ck, the captcha is


Don said...

We are having some *fascinating* discussions among the staff at school these days.

Anonymous said...

OK, how about the Governor pulls a PATCO and turns loose all those teachers who called in "sick" or who can be shown to have been protesting when they should have been working (using various photos available). They are replaced by Teach-for-America volunteers. Then eliminate the strict seniority policies for teacher retention and base them on student achievement, with allowances for teachers in h-ll hole schools.

Typing as someone who has paid her own insurance and retirement for the past 10+ years, and who has watched jobs in her field vanish like dew after sunrise, I find it difficult to have an overwhelming amount of sympathy for the members of public unions. Sorry, Pumice, I can't walk in and teach because although I am certified to teach college students and give flight instruction, I have never taken an ed class and thus am below the notice of a teachers' union.


Divemedic said...

There is a problem with basing teacher pay on student outcome: how do you measure outcome?

If you do it by the grades the teachers give, that is how we get illiterate college students.

If you do it through standardized testing, you get teachers who spend the year helping students cram for the test. Florida's FCAT is a good example of testing FAIL.

What do you do about teachers who teach non-english speaking or retarded students? They would do more work, but with fewer results. Do the lower results mean they should get paid less?

Anon: Because YOUR employer screwed you, you feel the need to get revenge by screwing others?

Mike Gallo said...

Just so everyone knows; teachers are actually not even impacted by this bill. The "big controversy" is actually that this would make it so State employees (teachers do not contract with the state) would be able to opt out of union membership w/o having to pay a "fair share" (read: pay dues anyways). Since the actual budget bill later this year will likely open up teahers to similar changes on the local level, the union bosses are freaking out about an end to the gravy train.

For the record, Walker is NOT your average politician. Look back at his tenure in Milwaukee and see for yourself; he's the real deal. If he has run the numbers and found this will bring us back into the black, then he's telling the truth.

thesouthtexaspistolero said...

you get teachers who spend the year helping students cram for the test.

...but shouldn't the students be learning the skills assessed via the test anyway? I don't ask to be confrontational; I'd really like to know. I know this "they have to teach to the test" thing is a popular answer to the question of why the state of pub-ed is so abysmal, but is it really that simple? What of, say, the education majors in my wife's creative writing class a couple of semesters ago who didn't have any favorite authors because they didn't like to read?

Heather said...

"...but shouldn't the students be learning the skills assessed via the test anyway"

Theoretically, yes.

But, if your pay and job retention is based off of students being able to regurgitate correct answers, would you not simply drill them repeatedly in the correct answers rather than teach them to think enough to be able to come up with the correct answers?

I agree that the assessing teachers based on student achievement is very difficult. It might be doable for some subjects - maths, concrete subjects. But music, art? Tennessee is trying to do a value added system, but is grading their band directors based on how well they perform in math class. How does that make sense?

Divemedic said...

"...but shouldn't the students be learning the skills assessed via the test anyway?"

Of course they should, in a perfect world. The problem here is that we live in the real world, where kids go home and play video games, and get pregnant instead of doing homework. Many students in Florida do not speak English. Since so much of a child's learning is dependent on what the child and his parents do outside of the classroom, the teacher whose pay is based upon a test score will do whatever it takes to increase that score. When traditional methods fail, the teacher will resort to cramming for the test during class time.

global village idiot said...

Further commentary is quite unnecessary - there's no need to gild this lilly.


Thirdpower said...

You have school systems where the teachers are not allowed by the administration to fail students. No matter what.

If you look at most 'standardized tests', they have no basis in a realistic curriculum and school funding is often based off of them.

Avg. is not good enough so grades get inflated.

Then you get illiterate college students who think that the 'deserve' good grades.

Try 'dealing w/ just a few irate parents' and see how easy it is. "Why did my Johnny fail?" "He never turned in his homework. He failed every test and quiz and was disruptive in class". "So? You're supposed to be the teacher. Teach."

Anonymous said...

Don't "doctors" of "J" who are counsel to or functionaries of gov bodies suck at the public teat a lot harder than teachers or most anybody else, both during and after their questionably productive years?

I wonder what some of them think of the cuts and conflicts in Wis and Fla, and coming soon to a state near you...

Al Terego

staghounds said...

"You have school systems where the teachers are not allowed by the administration to fail students. No matter what."

Which require dishonest, lying teachers to function.

And this "teaching to the test" whinge is silly.

All training and learning is "teaching to the test", whether it's running so you can do a marathon or learning English so you can read books.

First, there aren't "answers", the tests require skills.

Second, isn't the purpose of education TEACHING STUFF? Make the test test for what you want taught.

Educationist industry representatives seem to suggest that "teaching to the test" is worse than teaching nothing at all.

Anonymous said...

As a person who's been employed by the same company for 25 years, and in the last 5 years haven't received a raise, have watched my health premiums go up 60% in the last 10 years, went on salary with no OT 2 years ago (with an average 50 hour work week), and took a 10% pay cut 1.5 years ago (not just me, but the all the employees) so our manufacturing business can stay afloat, the amount of compassion I have for anybody having to take any sort of pay cut right now is completely zero. I've sold everything unnecessary, have tightened every aspect of my budget, and the thought of even going out and buying something like a new car or TV is laughable at best. Welcome to the new world, isn't it grand???

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say, even with everything I described above (pay cut, no raise, no OT, etc), I'm still DAMN GLAD to have a job! To those of you who have lost your jobs, my heart goes out to you, I've watched a lot of good people where I work get a pink slip, and you never know, I could be next too. Any gov worker that has to take a pay cut, or service cut, well, they can just join the rest of us in the private sector who have made the same or often much worse cuts years ago. Right now I make about the same as I did in the early 90's, when I could buy gas and milk at half the cost. Better than living under a bridge...

D.W. Drang said...

Gotta love those MDs passing out sick slips for "Walker's Pneumonia"...