Unions are ruining this country. There. I said it.
For the past few weeks, the teachers in the Kent School District have been on strike because they were unhappy with the contract presented to them by the District. This happens every single year in one or more of the school districts in Western Washington. Initially, the parents are supportive, but the more time that goes by, the more inconvenienced the parents become and support for the teachers plummets. Last week, a Judge ordered the teachers back to work or face a $200.00 per teacher, per day fine. Sunday night, they finally reached an agreement and school opened yesterday. I find it rather disgusting that the teachers only agreed to go back to work when the money was coming out of their pockets. At least they have jobs, unlike my husband who is now on Month #13 with no work, and now his unemployment benefits have run out.
A few years ago, the Marysville School District stayed on strike until the last part of October. It screwed the kids over big time, especially the seniors who were relying on sports scholarships and early admission into college. It further screwed the students over because they had to make up the lost time by foregoing school breaks and attending school almost until the 4th of July, and many seniors lost valuable summer work wages.
The biggest sticking point is the "smaller class size" thing. They complain because they don't get enough one-on-one time with the kids, and many of the kids don't speak English. Well we can solve the smaller class size thing by controlling the population. When I was in school there was no such thing as one on one time with the teacher, unless you went for extra help during lunch, study hall or after school. As for our non-English speaking kids, LEARN THE DAMN LANGUAGE. We had an influx of Vietnamese families into my hometown, in the early 80's....or at that time they were known around the world as "the boat people". They integrated into the USA and the kids who attended Sandwich High School learned English. The exchange students learned English. Quit mollycoddling these people, especially those who are illegal, and force them into an English immersion class. Seriously.
I never even heard of teachers going on strike until we moved to Washington. I don't believe it happened in California, and I know it didn't happen in Sandwich. Why are these teachers punishing the kids by going on strike at the beginning of the school year? I realize that they are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. They take a lot of crap from the many ill-mannered kids and teens. But is going on strike really helping the kids? I don't think so.
A few months back, I posted a question to my friends, on Facebook, asking whether those people with children would be willing to give up their Child Income Tax Credit or their hefty tax refund (b/c they can claim their kids), and have that money be funneled towards their respective schools. The people with children responded, "No". They were not willing to give up their child tax credit or their refund, because they stated that they didn't trust the government to actually give that money to their school districts. I then posed the question, "Is it fair that childless couples see their property taxes go up and up, yet we have no child exemption to claim and our refunds are much smaller?" Surprisingly, not one person who had kids thought of it that way. I really believe that this would help the schools tremendously. I don't see why childless couples have to do more than their fair share for the schools when the people who have kids and need the schools are getting refunds upwards of $3,000 every spring at tax time (where we only get about $500 as our tax refund, IF we are lucky).
I realize why unions were started and yes, there is a need for them. Some of them. Like the garment workers union, to keep them from being worked 18 hours a day in sweat-shop conditions. But teachers? I don't agree with their being unionized. I was in the electrical workers union (IBEW) when I worked at Channel 56, so I have some experience in this area. I felt that our shop stewards were a bit too hardcore and ridiculous, the way they constantly threatened "to file a grievance" for every little thing. I remember one time when one of the news talent accidentally touched or moved one of the studio cameras. Only IBEW members were allowed to touch the equipment. Some of the guys in the studio got super indignant and pretty much dressed down the newscaster and telling them to never touch any equipment again or else a grievance would be filed with our union. I rolled my eyes. Even when I went back to visit in 1991, some of my former coworkers reminded me not to touch the equipment b/c I wasn't in the union anymore. Oh and let's not forget the times when a Director would go to ask one of the crew a question like 5 minutes before we were "on the clock". We would be standing outside studio control, waiting to start work in 5 minutes, a Director would ask a question and inevitably someone would say, "We're not on the clock yet. Ask again at 3:15." Give me a break.
As some of you may or may not know, Washington is home to the Boeing Company. There are several plants where the planes are assembled. Every 2 or 3 years, the machinists union goes on strike b/c they don't like their contract. They want more money. "Mo' money! Mo' money! Mo' money!!", if I may quote from an "In Living Color" sketch. They end up on strike for at least 30-60 days, the planes go unbuilt, the orders stack up or are canceled, Boeing's clients end up going to Airbus, and when everyone does finally return to work, Boeing ends up laying off thousands of people because the plane orders dropped. The Boeing plant in South Carolina has just voted to disband their chapter of the machinists union. This means that Boeing can now move their assembly lines to SC, and tell WA to fuck off. The Boeing workers up here don't seem to be worried about it, but I am worried about it. If Boeing decides to move the bulk of their assembly to a right-to-work state like SC, the economy in Western Washington will really take a hit, and it's bad enough as it is.
So, what say you? Unions: Justified or Unreasonable?