‘More Energetic’ Teachers Thrown Under the Bus

Steven Greenhut: “It’s no secret” that union bosses put longtime workers’ interests above those of “newbies.” (credit: SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE)

You Had No Reason to Expect’ Union Officials Would Betray You’

Today more than 30 states have laws on the books empowering government union bosses to speak for all public servants who choose not to join their organizations, as well as those who do, in discussions with the employer regarding pay, benefits, and work rules.

Big Labor insists that corralling workers who don’t belong to a union, and don’t want to, under union monopoly bargaining is “for their own good.”

But this is often obviously untrue, as a recent commentary for the Orange County (Calif.) Register by Steven Greenhut of the R Street Institute demonstrated.

If Pink-Slipped Educators Are Terminated, It Won’t Be Because They’re Bad Teachers

In early March, Mr. Greenhut informed his readers, the school board of the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) in Orange County had voted, 4-1, to send out pink slips to 287 teachers and other education employees, warning them they may potentially be laid off at the end of the academic year.

The SAUSD is short of funds in part because its enrollment is falling.

Nevertheless, the district undoubtedly could have sent out far fewer pink slips, and perhaps none at all, had it not acquiesced in 2015 to union bosses’ demands for a salary increase that now costs already over-burdened taxpayers $32 million annually.

Moreover, the potential harm to schoolchildren and their parents resulting from layoffs is greatly magnified because, under contract terms upon which union kingpins have always insisted, the layoffs must adhere to “Last in, first out” (LIFO) rules.

That is, the teachers with the least seniority will get laid off first, even if their job performance is outstanding and/or their expertise is in subject areas which an insufficient number of district employees are qualified to teach.

‘You Had Every Reason to Expect That Our School Board Would Protect You’

In short, unless Big Labor California Gov. Jerry Brown finds extra state tax dollars to divert to Santa Ana, union bosses are prepared, in Mr. Greenhut’s words, “to throw . . . younger, more energetic and lower-paid” teachers “under the bus.”

Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias, the only SAUSD board member to vote against both the unfunded 2015 pay hike and this year’s pink slips, has publicly commiserated with the many teachers who may be terminated “only because they’re new”:

“You had no reason to expect” officials of “your own union would betray you. But they did. And you had every reason to expect that our school board would protect you” from union officials’ “destructive” agenda. But “they didn’t.”

Because the monopoly-bargaining system routinely fails to defend the interests of the most recently hired educators, schoolchildren, parents, and taxpayers, wrote Mr. Greenhut, older teachers “will keep their raises, while the young ones get laid off first.”

“It’s no secret,” he concluded, that union bosses put longtime workers’ interests above those of “newbies.”

Educators Forced to Bankroll The Very Union Bigwigs Who Undercut Their Job Security

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad observed that what’s happening in Santa Ana is no anomaly:

“The scenario now unfolding in Santa Ana occurs countless times in state after state in the late winter and spring of every year in unionized K-12 school districts with budget problems due to declining enrollments and/or other reasons.

“It happens largely because Big Labor insists that mere seniority suffices for a teacher to be given preference over more successful, new teachers.

“And in California and roughly a dozen-and-a-half other states that authorize compulsory union dues and fees in the government sector, educators who have less job security as a consequence of union monopoly bargaining actually have to bankroll the Big Labor bosses who block all attempts to roll back LIFO rules.

“Largely because of government union chiefs’ monopoly-bargaining and forced-dues privileges, the California public education system has over the course of the past 40 years become an expensive shambles.

“Elimination of these special privileges is essential for meaningful reform of the system.”

(Source: May 2017 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter)