An interesting and rather ignorant comment was made by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis yesterday. She wants us to believe that money spent on benefits for teachers somehow isn't compensation. I guess that means it's free.
In her explanation, she made a distinction between money spent on salaries, which she rightfully considered as compensation, and money spent on other things, such as health insurance, life insurance, sick days, holiday pay and even retirement benefits, which she wrongly considered not to be compensation.
Either she doesn't know that money spent on the employment relationship is compensation, whether it be direct or indirect compensation, or she wants We the People to be naive enough to accept her argument that benefits shouldn't be counted as compensation. That's pure nonsense.
'A Strike of Choice' says this in relevant part:
"Chicago Public Schools are closed today. And as a result 350,000 students will need to find something else to do. Why?
Teachers unions, of course. The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike
today after failing to reach an agreement with the city on a new
contract. The contract would, among other things, require teachers to
undergo performance evaluations that could be used to fire
"Recognizing the board's fiscal woes,
we are not far apart on compensation," union president Karen Lewis
explained in a press release. "However, we are apart on benefits. We
want to maintain the existing health benefits. . . .
What's really unacceptable here is the fact that despite having among
the highest paid teachers in the country, only 56% of Chicago Public
School students graduate high school. Last school year only 31% of
Chicago high school students met or exceeded Illinois state academic
standards. . . . "I believe this is
avoidable because this is a strike of choice," Democratic Mayor Rahm
Emanuel said at a news conference last night."
CTU President Lewis said the parties weren't far apart on compensation but remained apart on benefits.
Sorry, Ms. Lewis, but money spent on benefits is compensation, as is money spent on pensions, as is money spent on salaries.
Money is money, in other words.
When I was a youthful labor negotiator, the older and much more experienced union negotiator on the other side of the table said it best, "Whether it's used to pay wages and salaries, purchase health care insurance or provide retirement benefits, it's all the same. Money is just money."
I've always remembered that and especially the colorful manner in which the older union negotiator said it.