Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lessons From Greece for Chicagoans and Others

Chicago teachers union officials are more popular with Chicagoans than the city's mayor, Democrat Rahm Emanuel. His "crime" was trying to get the city's financial affairs in order, including its schools.

Of course, this didn't sit well with the leadership of the teachers union. But surprisingly, at least to me, the majority of the good citizens of Chicago have sided with the teachers and against their mayor.

That said, it's obviously just a popularity contest, since no word has been forthcoming from either the teachers, their union leadership or the good citizens of Chicago about whether the teachers will accept something like a 50% pay cut or the taxpayers will accept a 50% tax hike in order to straighten out the city's financial issues. Who said money doesn't grow on trees?

Apparently they think it does in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the state's Democratic politicians are fighting among themselves about how to deal with the $100 billion funding shortfall for public sector pensions.

One leader within the Democratic Party wants to work closely with the teachers union in a non-serious manner to get the union's approval and the other leader wants to do something serious that the union won't endorse about solving the state's financial problems.

In fact, it seems that the union has lots of constitutional lawyers as they've concluded that the more serious proposal won't even pass constitutional muster in Illinois. I always thought that deciding the constitutionality of legislation was within the jurisdiction and competency of the judicial system, and not relegated to the political leadership of the teachers union and its allies in the state legislature, but what do I know?

Oh well, what's $100 billion among friends if it will make the teachers union happy? But then, who's going to come up with the $100 billion and when? Future taxpayers will, of course, and that's why the views of the majority of the current Chicago citizens endorsing the teachers union over the Chicago mayor's are quite revealing. Naive, too.

Maybe they should study what's happening in Greece. It's quite a contrast. Who'd a thunk that Greece would be teaching Americans about teachers unions, strikes, public protests and fiscal responsibility?

Greek Public-Sector Stirke Fizzles has the surprising news.

The good citizens of Chicago, Detroit (they're broke, too), and too many to mention California communities, as well as countless others across this great nation of ours, should pay close attention to what's happening, or perhaps better said, not happening in Greece today:

"ATHENS—A last-minute, 24-hour Greek public-sector strike over cutbacks in the education system failed to draw widespread participation Tuesday, underscoring weakening public support for Greece's once-powerful labor movement as well as infighting within the union itself.

Protest rallies early Tuesday in the center of the Greek capital brought out only a few dozen union members, while most public services—including schools—around the country were operating without serious disruption.

Police estimate that fewer than 250 protesters turned out at two separate demonstrations, while union leaders conceded that participation was poor. "Neither the turnout at the rally nor the participation in the strike was very satisfactory," said a union leader who declined to be named.

The strike, announced by public-sector union ADEDY, was called to protest the latest moves by Greece's government, which over the weekend invoked emergency powers to head off a planned teachers' strike next week that threatened to disrupt national university entrance exams.

Citing public interest, the government invoked a law on compulsory civil mobilization, ordering the teachers back to work during the exam period or else face arrest. It is the third time this year that the government—dominated by the center-right New Democracy party—has used the law to face down striking workers.

The teachers are protesting new overhauls in the education system that include increasing their average workweek to 23 hours, from 21 currently, and would make it easier for them to be transferred between schools within the same district.

Union leaders ascribed the poor turnout in part to the fact that the strike was hastily decided on Monday afternoon—not allowing the unions much time to plan their protest. At the same time the high-school teachers union, known as OLME, also disagreed with the timing of the strike and refused to participate.

But a fresh poll Tuesday also showed that most Greeks had little sympathy for the teachers' demands. An opinion survey published on the website of Greece's To Vima newspaper, showed that 66.4% of Greeks were opposed to the teachers' strike during the exam period, and 52.3% say they supported the government's move to ensure that the exams took place on time."

Summing Up

The teachers unions in Athens aren't as popular with Greek citizens as are those in Chicago and numerous other U.S. cities.

My guess is it's all directly related to the fact that the ugly and stark reality of the situation finally has set in on the Greeks.

Soon it will set in here as well.

How soon is the only remaining question.

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment