Another syndicated scribe has taken to slashing and burning unions. He’s a Tribune News Service columnist. With apologies to the intrepid Carrie Nation, I’ll call him “Hatchet-Man” (HM). He wrote a lengthy piece, laughingly titled “Unions don’t like concept of fair play.” His name isn’t important. [Editor’s note: The author’s name is Jay Ambrose.] Just another highly paid, right-wing propagandist.
The guy groveled at the feet of Governor and would-be seeker of the Republican presidential nomination, Scott Walker. Walker is yet another Koch addict who has managed to turn Wisconsin into a Right-to-Work (RTW) state. In currying the favor of Walker and union-busters everywhere, the “columnist” wielded his ink-stained hatchet with a mean-spirited, misleading and largely erroneous take on today’s unions.
It’s not that I’m particularly concerned that one of my favorite institutions is being attacked. Whack away! I am equally unconcerned about my right to set things straight. That’s what I do for PoliticusUSA. Let’s agree on one thing, shall we? If you didn’t want a union shop and yet, somehow, one managed to squirm its way into your company in a RTW state, you should be paid non-union wages and benefits and the union members should be paid union wages and benefits. I mean we all want “fair play”, right? No? You don’t want to pay dues, but you expect all the moolah and benefits? Whatta leech! The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the weekly wage numbers for non-union workers at 79% of union workers.
Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), is also a Hatchet-Man target. Ms. Weingarten was quoted by a Wisconsin online news service uttering this pithy and dead-on observation, “If you want good jobs, then you must stand up for the workers who hold them. If you want a strong middle class, then you can’t take out the unions that built them. If you want higher wages, then workers need a voice.” Certainly sounds reasonable to reasonable people.
In his response, HM insists Walker neither reduced jobs nor hurt the middle class and, by golly, he did give the workers a voice and an extension of rights. As for the latter, I’ve already identified the so-called anti-union parasite’s “rights.”
HM must be highly clairvoyant considering Walker just signed the enabling legislation a few days ago. But, if the other 24 right-to-work states are any guide, the bill will create deep resentments (as intended) within the workplace and will do great harm to the middle class when major corporations continue bringing in their union-busters who make huge money by using deceit and lies to keep unions from darkening corporate doors. As for not reducing jobs, it may surprise you that RTW has been around since 1947. Most RTW states have had the law on the books for more than 30 years, so there’s a body of evidence to debunk the suggestion that the job picture will suddenly become rosy.
The inestimably valuable Economic Policy Institute (EPI) did a comprehensive study on the subject and discovered that all RTW states did not experience employment growth after passing the legislation. Oklahoma was given as an example where manufacturing and relocation reversed their upward trend and went the other way. In rebuttal, RTW, as all rogues invariably do, messed with some numbers.
The National Right to Work Committee asserted that non-agricultural employment in RTW states averaged growth that was twice as fast as in non-RTW states. The declaration is true with an asterisk. These stats are based on “average” instead of “median” figures. Average is when you lump all the numbers together and divide them by the number of participants. In salary averages for instance, if a couple of people earn a million a year and the rest of the included workers make $7,000 a year, depending on numbers, the “average” could be as high as $50,000, when the overwhelming percentage of participants make around 7K.
Median is a much more objective figure. In median household income for example, one-half of households are below the median; one-half above. In the RTW case, some states did, indeed, go crazy with employment increases (most not related to RTW, by the way), while others tumbled into the abyss. But with “averages” the RTW Committee managed to make the numbers look like every RTW state benefited. That was clearly not true.
And for you non-union, non-thinkers, virtually all states are “at will” states, meaning you can be fired if the boss doesn’t like the way you part your hair. Union members can only be fired for “just cause.”
A still worthy, timeless read on the subject is the 1993 tell-all non-fiction work, “Confessions of a Union Buster” by reformed buster, Martin J. Levitt. He tells all the inside secrets of how he was able to build up a sterling record of successfully keeping unions out of all but 5 of roughly 250 union-hating, filthy rich corporations. It’s still available on Amazon. There are also Levitt interviews on YouTube.
Levitt was predictably attacked by the anti-union hacks as a liar, cheat and fraud in revealing how the ‘kill unions’ game was, and still is, played. Let’s concede their point. It still doesn’t change the nature of his job.
HM then went on to decry Weingarten’s outrageous salary of $375,174 PLUS $182,701 in expenses. Why, that’s over a half-mil a year! Now, let’s do a little comparison shopping here. Let’s start with the average compensation for the CEO’s of the Fortune 500 list, union-busters included. TEN MILLION big ones annually and I would dare say there are many hundreds more, maybe even thousands, of upper management types that far outdistance 500 grand. Hell, Salon reports that in 2012, David Koch made $3 million an HOUR in investments alone.
HM was thrilled that an earlier bill signed by the governor allowed teachers to drop out of their unions. A third of them did (Brains, A; judgment, F.) Be that stupid, but don’t irreparably harm your fellow teachers in the process. This bit of news served as an entrée into the issue of a United Federation of Schools (UFS) charter school that failed miserably in Brooklyn. There’s no challenging the fact that the school was an embarrassing disappointment, especially since it was the brainchild of a teacher’s union.
A Wall Street Journal article quoted a former teacher as saying that the UFS Charter School, was an exciting place to work with an exceptional and carefully chosen faculty, a high degree of enthusiasm and a promising student body.” The core reason for the downhill slide was the loss of the best teachers who had an agreement with the public schools that they could retain tenure if they returned after 3 years. That’s when the slide started.
Of course, other charters and private schools can cherry-pick the best and brightest and expel the troublemakers. Forbes cited a Washington DC charter expulsion rate 28 times greater than DC public schools. And there’s the matter of accountability. Still, charter schools manage to trail public schools in numerous categories. Forbes cited for-profit charter numbers from a 26-state Stanford study that charter reading scores were about the same and math scores were worse.
Huge charter money goes to mostly Republican legislators who are bent on destroying the public system.
So there’s your column as it should have been written.
Raised rural & small town, then lived in N.Y., Chicago & LA. Widely traveled. Returned from world wandering to pursue media life of anchorman/reporter and major, medium and small market talk radio. Highly active in politics. Once worked as orderly & security in Mens Lock Ward for the Criminally Insane at a state institution. Much more rational population than current Teapublicans. Great concern for country run by and for the extreme wealthy. The inhumane current running through this country has no precedent in modern history.
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