Big Labor's Burden On Taxpayers Straining Relationships With Big City Mayors

Big Labor's Burden On Taxpayers Straining Relationships With Big City Mayors

Reason opines that the fiscal reality of many cities have ended the love affair, in some instances, between local Democrat mayors and the union who elected them. But, it will likely not bring reform aslong as political machines a mostly funded and controlled by labor union bosses: When Chicago public school teachers started the fall semester by turning down a $400 million contract offer that would have boosted pay by 16 percent over four years, my first concern wasn’t for the children. It was for the Democrats.  Sure, the walkout by Chicago Teachers Union members caused havoc for kids. But I’ve been to public school, and I can tell you they didn’t miss much.  The strike’s lasting damage was to the party that since at least the early 20th century has been labor’s best friend. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not just some schmuck in the donkey party: He is President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, the congressional leader behind the Democrats’ 2006 House takeover, a Clinton administration arm twister so feared that he is still known by his ’90s nickname, Rahmbo.  But the strike made Chicago’s tough-guy mayor look like Chuck “Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner. Striking teachers dubbed him “Empermanuel,” accused him of having “no respect for us as people,” and even claimed (falsely, it turned out) that Emanuel was a fan of the Canadian alt-rock quartet Nickelback. When the teachers returned to work after more than a week on the picket line, they had scored a big pay increase and crippled the teacher-evaluation testing at the heart of the strike, a resolution Emanuel unconvincingly called an “honest compromise.” Emanuel is one of many recent Democratic chief executives who have, with varying levels of enthusiasm and success, tried to confront government employee unions. California Gov. Jerry Brown struggled for two years to get a minor pension bill through the legislature. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March got a partial pension reform that is expected to save $3 billion a year out of the Empire State’s $133 billion annual budget. Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his job when he took on the teachers union. 

Big Labor's Burden On Taxpayers Straining Relationships With Big City Mayors

Big Labor's Burden On Taxpayers Straining Relationships With Big City Mayors

Reason opines that the fiscal reality of many cities have ended the love affair, in some instances, between local Democrat mayors and the union who elected them. But, it will likely not bring reform aslong as political machines a mostly funded and controlled by labor union bosses: When Chicago public school teachers started the fall semester by turning down a $400 million contract offer that would have boosted pay by 16 percent over four years, my first concern wasn’t for the children. It was for the Democrats.  Sure, the walkout by Chicago Teachers Union members caused havoc for kids. But I’ve been to public school, and I can tell you they didn’t miss much.  The strike’s lasting damage was to the party that since at least the early 20th century has been labor’s best friend. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not just some schmuck in the donkey party: He is President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, the congressional leader behind the Democrats’ 2006 House takeover, a Clinton administration arm twister so feared that he is still known by his ’90s nickname, Rahmbo.  But the strike made Chicago’s tough-guy mayor look like Chuck “Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner. Striking teachers dubbed him “Empermanuel,” accused him of having “no respect for us as people,” and even claimed (falsely, it turned out) that Emanuel was a fan of the Canadian alt-rock quartet Nickelback. When the teachers returned to work after more than a week on the picket line, they had scored a big pay increase and crippled the teacher-evaluation testing at the heart of the strike, a resolution Emanuel unconvincingly called an “honest compromise.” Emanuel is one of many recent Democratic chief executives who have, with varying levels of enthusiasm and success, tried to confront government employee unions. California Gov. Jerry Brown struggled for two years to get a minor pension bill through the legislature. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March got a partial pension reform that is expected to save $3 billion a year out of the Empire State’s $133 billion annual budget. Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his job when he took on the teachers union. 

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

Matt Kibbe looks at why the "resolution" of the teacher's strike in Chicago is not in the best interests of the children and taxpayers of the state: The Chicago Teachers Union Strike may be resolved for now, but the events illustrate a serious problem facing the United States: union bosses are manipulating government leaders, using teachers and students as human shields in their fight to maintain power over the educational system. Their stranglehold on education has to end if our children are to have any hope of getting the education they need to compete in the world. [media-credit name=" " align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]Teacher pay got a lot of attention in coverage of the debate, but it was far from the only issue at play in the strike, which ended Wednesday under the promise of a resolution that appeased the union bullies. The primary disagreements were over who has the power to hire and fire teachers, and accountability for student performance. The union insisted that it should have the right to dictate who gets hired to fill jobs in the district. Primarily, it wanted to take hiring authority away from school principals by requiring that laid-off teachers be hired back. Union leaders also rejected the perfectly reasonable demand from the city of Chicago that standardized test scores play a role in evaluating teacher performance. A roofer is judged by how well his shingles keep out the rain. A CFO is judged by her company’s balance sheet. A journalist is judged by the accuracy and fairness of his story. Yet somehow union leaders think teachers shouldn’t be judged by the outcome of their work. Teachers’ unions exist to promote what’s best for teachers, not students. As Albert Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, once reportedly put it, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.” (Shanker’s supporters dispute that he said this, but the quotation’s staying power illustrates the accuracy with which it represents union motives.) Because they exist to protect the status quo, unions oppose the kind of meaningful education reform America needs. They oppose education tax credits, school vouchers, charter schools, merit pay, and virtually all attempts to impose real accountability. They instead support a system that sees the United States spending nearly two and a half times more per pupil today than in 1970. What have we received in return? Stagnant math and reading scores for 17-year-olds, and a decline in science scores.

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

Matt Kibbe looks at why the "resolution" of the teacher's strike in Chicago is not in the best interests of the children and taxpayers of the state: The Chicago Teachers Union Strike may be resolved for now, but the events illustrate a serious problem facing the United States: union bosses are manipulating government leaders, using teachers and students as human shields in their fight to maintain power over the educational system. Their stranglehold on education has to end if our children are to have any hope of getting the education they need to compete in the world. [media-credit name=" " align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]Teacher pay got a lot of attention in coverage of the debate, but it was far from the only issue at play in the strike, which ended Wednesday under the promise of a resolution that appeased the union bullies. The primary disagreements were over who has the power to hire and fire teachers, and accountability for student performance. The union insisted that it should have the right to dictate who gets hired to fill jobs in the district. Primarily, it wanted to take hiring authority away from school principals by requiring that laid-off teachers be hired back. Union leaders also rejected the perfectly reasonable demand from the city of Chicago that standardized test scores play a role in evaluating teacher performance. A roofer is judged by how well his shingles keep out the rain. A CFO is judged by her company’s balance sheet. A journalist is judged by the accuracy and fairness of his story. Yet somehow union leaders think teachers shouldn’t be judged by the outcome of their work. Teachers’ unions exist to promote what’s best for teachers, not students. As Albert Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, once reportedly put it, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.” (Shanker’s supporters dispute that he said this, but the quotation’s staying power illustrates the accuracy with which it represents union motives.) Because they exist to protect the status quo, unions oppose the kind of meaningful education reform America needs. They oppose education tax credits, school vouchers, charter schools, merit pay, and virtually all attempts to impose real accountability. They instead support a system that sees the United States spending nearly two and a half times more per pupil today than in 1970. What have we received in return? Stagnant math and reading scores for 17-year-olds, and a decline in science scores.

Taxpayer Bailout for Illinois?

Taxpayer Bailout for Illinois?

[media-credit name=" " align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]After giving away the store and the kitchen sink to the union bosses, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is looking for a federal taxpayer guarantee for the state's pension debt, the Wall Street Journal opines: Now that Chicago's children have returned to not learning in school, we can all move on to the next crisis in Illinois public finance: unfunded public pensions. Readers who live in the other 49 states will be pleased to learn that Governor Pat Quinn's 2012 budget proposal already floated the idea of a federal guarantee of its pension debt. Think Germany and eurobonds for Greece, Italy and Spain. Thank you for sharing, Governor. Sooner or later, we knew it would come to this since the Democrats who are running Illinois into the ground can't bring themselves to oppose union demands. Illinois now has some $8 billion in current debts outstanding and taxpayers are on the hook for more than $200 billion in unfunded retirement costs for government workers. By some estimates, the system could be the first in the nation to go broke, as early as 2018. Liabilities are also spiralling nationwide, with some $2.5 trillion in unfunded state pension costs. According to a paper released Thursday by the Illinois Policy Institute, the crisis will end up pitting states against each other as taxpayers in places like Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Utah will be asked to subsidize the undisciplined likes of Illinois and California.

How the Teachers’ Union Robbed Chicago, Again

Writing at National Review, Joshua Culling looks at the details of the Chicago teachers deal: During the Democratic National Convention I wrote about a clear contrast between the policies of Illinois natives Barack Obama and Pat Quinn, and their Wisconsin counterparts, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker. We now have another anti-reformer to add to the Illinois column: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. The seven-school-day Chicago Teachers Union strike was extensively covered across the country, as teachers walked out of the classroom after rejecting a deal with the city that would have paid them 16 percent more over four years, coupled with a slightly greater weighting of student performance in teacher evaluations. So far as I could tell, the union’s choice was overwhelmingly portrayed in a negative light, with even the New York Times editorial page calling the strike “unnecessary,” positing that union president Karen Lewis “seem[ed] to be basking in the power of having shut down the school system.” It was an opportunity for Emanuel to take a politically popular stand against union largesse while winning serious reforms for his city’s beleaguered budget. It is sad but true that when Democratic leaders push back against unions, they are applauded for moderation, or at least left alone by observers in the media. In 2011, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature curbed collective bargaining to little fanfare. At the same time, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pursued a similar path in Madison, but faced thousands of union protesters at his doorstep and the wrath of the New York Times and MSNBC.

Teachers Strike Hurts Families

When you put the interests of your paycheck ahead of the children you're teaching, you shouldn't be surprised that when you go on strike children are hurt.  Jeff Jacoby looks at the impact: The true long-term impact of the Chicago teachers strike may not be known for some time. But there is no mystery about its impact in the immediate term -- anxiety, panic, and disruption for myriad mothers and fathers left in the lurch when 30,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked away from their classrooms last week just as a new school year was getting underway. "Parents and guardians frantically sought last-minute child care, pleaded with their bosses for leniency, and hoped that their kids would return to school sooner rather than later,"reported the Chicago Sun-Times. "Citywide, for thousands of families, stress was high." The paper quoted Martina Watts, a mother in West Garfield Park, one of the city's rougher neighborhoods: "I might be losing my job over this. As long as they're on strike, I can't work. I'm not getting paid." Construction worker Allen Packer told a TV interviewer that he had to switch from full-time work to a part-time night shift so he could be home with his young daughter during the day. "I kind of understand what they're trying to do," he said of the striking teachers. "But this is not just them." He gestured toward his daughter. "It's her education, first of all. Then my paycheck for the food."