Monday, September 17, 2012

Chaos in Chicago ... Teachers Union Has Overstepped

Ever had a job where satisfactory performance wasn't a job requirement? Neither have I.

Ever had a job where raises were based solely on seniority and degrees earned instead of performance, quality of "product" and the employer's ability to pay? Neither have I.

Ever had a job where you could show up or not show up and still be paid and have no worries about being replaced by a more willing or able worker? Neither have I.

Where the boss wasn't really the boss? Neither have I.

Where the union ruled? Neither have I.

At some point, We the People will get "mad as hell" about the monopoly powers of teachers unions and be unwilling to take it any more. So while we're clearly not there not, maybe we're inching closer. I hope so.

Public education reformers may have received an unintended long term lesson and educational benefit from the Chicago teachers union yesterday. The teachers were supposed to agree to return to work this morning but didn't. Chaos reigns in Chicago this morning.

What a surprise this internal dissension within the union must have been to union leaders, Chicago city officials, citizens, parents and students. And the internal conflict isn't about the kids, but rather about how much power to yield to the school district and city.

That in turn allows us to comment one more time on the many ways in which public sector unions are so much different from those in the private sector.

In simple terms, public sector unions act as a monopolistic force, while private sector unions are faced with the element of global competition. Companies have to offer products and services that customers willingly pay for in order to stay in business. Meanwhile, monopolistic government entities have no such requirement to satisfy customers with affordable and quality product offerings. Monopolies are not dependent on customers, and they are not required to compete in a system where customers rule.

One union has all taxpayers behind them and available to pay for their mistakes. The other doesn't as its investors will head for the exits when the firm's customers choose to go elesewhere. Thus, there can be job security for employees, regardless of their performance, in the public sector, and there is no lasting job security without satisfactory performance in the private sector. That difference alone makes public sector unions a most powerful force relative to their private sector counterparts.

The private sector employees and companies are confronted with COMPETITION AND FREE TO CHOOSE CUSTOMERS AND INVESTORS. Public school teachers unions aren't.

If companies make lousy products, have high cost structures, lousy productivity and prices which are too high relative to their competitors, free choosing customers take their money and buy from the competition. As a result, the company goes out of business, employees lose their jobs and investors lose the money they invested in the company.

With the Chicago teachers, all these elements are missing. If kids don't learn, if teachers are overpaid, if the educational process doesn't become more efficient and productive and if the then existing taxes paid are insufficient to pay the total bill for public education, taxpayers, parents, students, school district officials and the citizens of the city as a whole are out of luck.

Teachers aren't replaced, vouchers aren't available to parents and students and the teachers monopoly is the only game in town. There's no competitive marketplace.

So now we wait until the teachers resolve their internal differences and decide to return to the classrooms. Then Chicagoans will be expected to applaud the teachers union, pay up, quietly send their kids back to school and then try to resume their lives as before.

But this time is perhaps different. Maybe we're all learning about the way things are through the chaos in Chicago. Maybe we're learning that the union is in charge and that that's not the way to improve our children's chances at achieving a quality education, getting a good paying "middle class" or better job and then enjoying the rest of their lives.

That we all have the right to live the American dream of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," in other words. Maybe we're also learning that a quality and affordable public education won't be the result if a monopoly based teachers union is in control.

The union doesn't care about the kids, their parents, the many good teachers, including those who want to be in the classroom right now, the taxpayers or government officials.

But there's one thing that in the end the union can't control ---- how the teachers union "delegates" will vote in a chaotic and highly emotional situation like today's, and when enough of the "delegates"  will vote to go back to school.

And if and when they do go back to school, there is no guarantee the teachers will vote later to ratify the ageement with the school district which was reached just this past week.

Or whether chaos will continue to rule in Chicago. If it does, the public's "education" will continue and perhaps accelerate as well.

Until then, we wait. Public sector unions suck.

Thanks. Bob.

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