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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
     (9554.81)
    I'm with you, spy. I'm just going to leave this link here in the event that people want to read refutation of pretty much everything James said, though. (Yes, it goes to Something Awful. I'm pretty sure it's not behind the bit you have to pay for.)

    I must say, in addition, Madison sure looked like a ghost town for the past month, with all those people standing back and watching.
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      CommentAuthortaphead
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
     (9554.82)
    Oh, pull the other one. Are unions pure temples of good governance? No. Did they create the middle class, give millions of children the chance to get a college education, guarantee health care and pensions and life insurance benefits for millions of Americans? Did unions political push get workplace safety acts like OSHA passed and minimum wage laws and anti-discrimination policies and....


    I miss Orson.
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      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
     (9554.83)
    People fought and died for the right to unionize. Some out of date and mostly-false ideas about unions doesn't mean a thing in the face of that.
  1.  (9554.84)
    People fought and died for the right to unionize.


    They will have to again. One of the main characteristics about those with wealth and power is their determination to maintain and expand their wealth and power. They are ruthless, they are cunning, they are deceitful, and they do not give a fuck about you.

    You can't fight them alone. You need the help of others. Unions are the only thing that stands between you and your enemy. Support the unions.
  2.  (9554.85)
    Just to be clear, I was being metaphorical. I was not suggesting frontier justice.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
     (9554.86)
    > You can't fight them alone. You need the help of others. Unions are the only thing that stands between you and your enemy. Support the unions.

    I don't know. I'm a software developer, working for the likes of [big or small software company]. So far as I know, this kind of job has never been unionised (unless perhaps you work for government). Job security means being able to find your next employer if/when this employer goes bust. Leverage when negotiating contract terms comes from the ability to walk and work for a different employer.

    I can see how this ('power' through labour mobility) doesn't work, how you might need to be unionised, if your employer is a monopoly: e.g. if you're a policeman.

    I don't understand about the gap between rich and poor, though: presumably the poor/poorest are those who aren't unionised, who perhaps aren't even employed. I'm not sure how unions help them.
  3.  (9554.87)
    I'm union. I'm not a public service employee. I work heavy construction. In my local you have to work 1400 hours this year to have full insurance coverage next year.Most workers I know haven't met that threshhold in 4 or 5 years. Otherwise, you have to make up the difference out of pocket (which is a problem when you obviously haven't been FUCKING WORKING). Don't equate the teachers or the cops with the rest of us. Most of us are working our asses off. Collective bargaining is the only legal, non-violent tool the average worker has.
    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
     (9554.88)
    @Fan http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html From 2004, but I just read it. From my perspective they sounded in dire need of unionization.

    From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States by Priscilla Murolo and A. B. Chitty is at least worth buying used for the great art by Joe Sacco.

    If we're going by corruption and inefficiency there are quite a few organizations that deserve serious attention first.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
     (9554.89)
    @swampyankee - Most teachers and cops are working their asses off, too, only to get the rug pulled out from under them through defunding and now legislation from the exact same employers as the people doing the pulling, who are all paid by the same taxpayers. Let's not get on the "teachers are lazy shits" train.
  4.  (9554.90)
    Also RE teachers, one line of thought I like to put out into the universe as often as possible is that this isn't a problem that presents an opportunity. The reason being, doing something about bad teachers would be more expensive than not doing something and instead using funds for more impactful education improvements.

    The simplest way to perceive this is, imagine that we remove all ingrained teacher protections and institute streamlined performance-based promoting and firing from top to bottom. Teachers can be fired really easily now. In this scenario, who does not also imagine that the schools of this country would still be speckled with teachers who were wince-enduringly bad at their job but doing fine by managing the new bureaucracy? Who can envision themselves as a child in that new system and still not finding plenty of cause to bang their head against the wall. People are in every line of work who suck at their jobs. Unions didn't invent mediocrity. Mediocrity is usually a factor of broader system inputs. There exist realms where unions can exert additional drag on productivity, like the auto industry maybe, but not teaching. Because you can't broadly institute accurate performance measurement for teaching.

    Teaching performance cannot be measured by universal standards or templates because the end product of education, a successful adult, takes decades to hit the salesfloor. I love quality management and in most fields, quality pays for itself: but children are not vacuum cleaners.

    Instead, evaluating teaching failure in real-time requires reconciling unempirical standards of what is good and bad, and collecting, verifying, and documentig hours and hours of case-related evidence (most people in the service industry only spend about two-three hours a day doing productive work that affects customers; a teacher racks up a ton more discreet performance events, and they have to be judged by second-hand report). It would require an engorged judicial appuratus set aside for just agreeing on facts of the case. The scenario of truly bad teaching in action is probably more complex than the average murder. (an extra note about the first point: society doesn't agree about what is good and bad in education; consensus against teacher actions in a free market would be achieved more quickly for controversial actions than those that can be demonstrated in agreed-upon terms to impair learning: in other words, streamlining review processes would lower the threshold for one filter (weeding out strangeness) while having an ambiguous effect on the other (weeding out badness), which sounds a lot like increasing mediocrity.)

    The likelihood is that a collective decision to look for and screen out bad teachers doesn't actually lower bad teacher count. It is wasted effort and money. Given that the American education system isn't facing a surplus of funds, we shouldn't spend money on reforms that don't have clear positive impact when with almost any other element of the system you can just fucking don a blindfold and throw dollar bills to make outcomes better.

    In sum, if a system that manages teacher performance globally and effectively cannot actually be imagined, then the current one is functionally efficient, and railing on teachers isn't an argument that has anything to do with public budgets or productivity, and is just a wank.
  5.  (9554.91)
    What I don't quite get is when teachers became The Enemy. My patience with hearing about what a bunch of greedy, entitled slackers teachers are is pretty well shot at this point.
  6.  (9554.92)
    swampyankee;

    I'm union. I'm not a public service employee. I work heavy construction. In my local you have to work 1400 hours this year to have full insurance coverage next year.Most workers I know haven't met that threshhold in 4 or 5 years. Otherwise, you have to make up the difference out of pocket (which is a problem when you obviously haven't been FUCKING WORKING).

    Get better union bosses.

    Don't equate the teachers or the cops with the rest of us. Most of us are working our asses off.

    This is a ridiculous statement and you know it.

    Collective bargaining is the only legal, non-violent tool the average worker has.

    This, however, is a brilliantly correct statement and you should staple it to the forehead of anyone claiming unions are bad.

    James Cunningham;

    What I don't quite get is when teachers became The Enemy.

    Around the same time shitty parents started to believe that their shitty kids doing badly in life wasn't their fault. I'm pretty sure it started with the Baby Boomers and just got worse over the last three generations.
    •  
      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2011
     (9554.93)
    Furthermore, it's easy to make a target of people who appear to only work nine months a year, for 7 hours a day with a lunch break, with big fat vacations during the school year. The people who are targeting teachers have literally no clue what goes into the job, not to mention what goes into getting an actual education. Actually, that's not true. The people following the people targeting teachers have no clue. People like Walker, Mitch Daniels, et al., know exactly what they're doing, which is what makes it frightening on a macro level.

    Teachers also appear far more expendable than police and firefighters because they don't provide an immediate safety benefit, despite there being a fucking educational crisis in the US. Again, those targeting teachers know this, and use exemptions for police and fire to keep their own political support while simultaneously appearing to give a shit about public safety and/or welfare.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2011
     (9554.94)
    @William George:

    >Around the same time shitty parents started to believe that their shitty kids doing badly in life wasn't their fault. I'm pretty sure it started with
    > the Baby Boomers and just got worse over the last three generations.

    This, this. I come from the Midwest. I went to a liberal elite college (Grinnell), got radicalized, and have not looked back since.

    I blame my parents, quite a lot. Their shitty, flabby, sort-of-liberal gimmie-benefits politics are to blame here.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2011
     (9554.95)
    @James, Cunningham, William George, rickiep00h, Finagle

    I say what I'm about to regarding bad teachers as a person who has parents who were in unions, has been in three unions, and has been a union steward defending workers against some shitty management practices.

    Re: bad teachers - Please, do not try to make it like teachers are, by nature of being teachers, some kind of saints, sent down by Your God Of Choice(tm) to bring enlightenment to the minds of children everywhere. Some teachers are like that one you had in school, that one who did everything he or she could to make you not only learn, but love to learn. That teacher who you tell your friends about, that teacher who, years or decades later, you remember fondly. For me it was Mr. Judge, a teacher who started teaching my freshmen class civics, driver's ed, and general history. He earned our respect by leveling with us and he treated us like adults, as young as we were, and we loved him for that. Over the next three years of high school he moved up twice so he could continue teaching our class; we loved him and he loved us and he was one of the best teachers I had before university. We all wish teachers were like that.

    >I blame my parents, quite a lot. Their shitty, flabby, sort-of-liberal gimmie-benefits politics are to blame here.

    But teachers are people, just as parents. Most are generally benign with varying degrees of effectiveness, just trying to muddle through life doing their best. Some are fantastic. And some, not all but some very stand-outs, are dog shit bad. I'm talking about teachers who are so lazy they sit at the front of class and ignore their students, trusting them to read the book and teach themselves. Some are abusive. Some are fuckers of the tenth degree. Just as a teacher may have the propensity to love their students and to really do everything they can to be that teacher, there are those who, by laziness, asshole natures, or some kind of other thing that's wrong with them, end up being those kinds of teachers. Their analogs are the parents who are abusive, distant, uncaring, ignorant of their children, or simply so inept you'd wonder how their parents even were able to manage sex to procreate. Not all teachers are this bad, and neither are parents.

    And you know what? I know that there are school administrators who would love nothing more than to kick out the lazy, the abusive, the catastrophically inept, those people who ruin kids, but can't. And you know what, I know how frustrating it is because unless you've had to sit next to someone at a table, facing down management, and arguing why your union member shouldn't be disciplined because they have the lowest stats in the call center, have been caught being abusive to callers (who are sick people trying to get appointments, by the way), and are general assholes with smug smiles on their face because they KNOW how hard it is for them to be fired then you can't understand. There were people I had to defend who DESERVED to be fired, who, if you encountered them while they were working, would've wondered how someone so inept and lazy could have kept their job, where if anywhere else they would've been out on their ear.

    So, yeah, I get why people are frustrated at teachers, especially the teaching unions, because they take active hands to keep such people in the system, year after year, fucking up kids. Are most teachers like that? No, not at all, just like not all parents are bad. I think that should be kept in mind.
  7.  (9554.96)
    My mom was a teacher and I went to public school. There's no belief in my mind that teachers are saints, or that certain ones didn't need to retire a decade ago. But this sudden demonization of them, blaming them for the tsunami of shit that public schools have become and characterizing them as leeches on society, is utter bullshit. That's what has killed my patience with the discussion.

    The point of a union is to protect worker's rights, and if some bad workers fall under the banner that's better than the alternative of everybody getting screwed. Kind of like how Westboro Baptist Church can exercise their free-speech rights, except hopefully less douche-tastic. It's a good thing with some imperfect consequences that can be abused.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2011
     (9554.97)
    So, what about the ones that aren't absolute shitheels? Let them fend for themselves because their magical awesomeness will protect them from administrators that don't like them, legislators that strip them of benefits, pay, supplies, and support, and parents that lay blame on anyone but themselves?

    I understand people getting mad at bad teachers in the same way I understand people getting mad at bad mechanics or plumbers. Shitheels exist in all walks of life, independent of union affiliation.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2011
     (9554.98)
    > http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/

    EA is kind of infamous; and I won't say they're atypical. But then, when you're looking for an employer, you can use your knowledge of stories like that; decide whether you even *want* to work for EA in particular (or even, in the computer games industry in general).

    But, I don't know about unionising. There are (here, anyway) many laws about employment which apply to everyone, whether or not they're unionised. If you don't like your contract (your pay, or your working conditions) then ask for another, or work for a different employer.

    That marxist term, "wage slavery": IMO it's labour mobility that makes this (being employed) so very different from slavery: the fact that if you don't like your employer/employment, you're free to choose another.

    Is it possible that unionization is more appropriate when the employer is a monopoly (police, teachers, etc.) such that there is no labour mobility? I don't understand how unions exist in industries where there are many employers (e.g. transportation, construction, acting). Why isn't there a union of software developers? Or of other non-professional jobs, like restaurant wait-staff?
  8.  (9554.99)
    I wrote a long response to the anti-union views expressed here. I deleted it because I realized trying to convince these living, breathing John Galts the importance of collectivity would be as futile as trying to convince a bible-licker their god was a bronze age myth.

    Feh.

This discussion has been inactive for longer than 5 days, and doesn't want to be resurrected.