Every weekday since the Siege of the Capitol in February, the unionistas have been singing songs like "Solidarity Forever" and "Ain't gonna turn me 'round." They chant slogans like "An injury to one is an injury to all."
They tell the cameras the organized labor movement is all about unity. They raise the blue fist of intimidation to speak of "brotherhoods," of being one with "the people" who march collectively for a better life for all.
They are liars. Their message is the Great Untruth. It's all one big scam -- especially where teachers unions are concerned. Because when it comes down to splitting the spoils, union members squabble like rival Prohibition bootleggers. When the shooting is over, the winner takes all, losers cry.
Take the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association. Please. While the union sues for taxpayer-supported Viagra, it cuts loose 200 of its members, dooming them to unemployment. With the MTEA, there is no shared sacrifice, no sense of fraternity and equality.
The Milwaukee public school teachers union threw 200 of their colleagues under the bus because it refuses payroll contributions equaling 5.8 percent of their salary toward half the cost of their generous pensions. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the story.
Those 200 ex-teachers will get no pension; no salary, no health care. They are unemployed. Their students will double up in other classrooms so the old and entrenched guard can get their taxpayer-paid Viagra.
Those 200 voices won't be heard in the union hall because they are no longer members. The senior members are busy congratulating themselves for "standing tough." They got theirs and that's what matters.
That's why unions are dying
The Left has lost its equivalent of Walter Cronkite. Former Isthmus editor Marc Eisen expends a little more of his hard-earned liberal capital by pronouncing Gov. Scott Walker to be "right when he said that unions can selfishly manipulate the political system to enrich themselves." Case in point is the sweetheart deal former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz gave the unions in a desperate bid to buy the election from the hard-charging and eventual winner Paul Soglin.
Eisen wonders if public employee unions are even relevant any more, or whether they can be in the future. His piece in the current Isthmus is an important read:
John Matthews, the head of Madison Teachers Inc., may be the last great union leader in Wisconsin. But to have built the union's foundation on a Byzantine 179-page master contract that, among other things, tilts pay to senior (and sometimes running-on-fumes) teachers at the expense of talented young teachers is not good.
Unions need to embrace merit and high-quality performance as core values. They need to lighten up on work rules, as Joel Rogers, the head of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, says. They need a mission statement focused on public service...
Can unions be relevant? The short answer is no. They had their chance.
No force in America is more reactionary, more resistant to reform and change. Unions celebrate the triumph of the mediocre; the collectivization of stupidity. A union exists for the lowest common denominator. It abhors achievement, penalizes excellence, fights progress.
Kaleem Caire, president of the Madison Urban League, is a reformer. It is telling that he wants no part of unionized intransigence and "teach to the contract." He wants teachers who are dedicated to changing the lives of their students in the charter school he proposes for male students of color.
Eisen makes a great point, via a quoted expert, that unions should stand for some greater purpose than their pocketbook. Won't find anything approaching that in the 179 pages of pettifoggery constituting the Madison teachers collective bargaining agreement. Unions have for too long been so consumed with separating the flyspecks from the pepper they never saw Scott Walker coming. (The state unions held out on Jim Doyle hoping for a better deal from Tom Barrett, who trailed Walker consistently in the public opinion polls!)
Union president Mike Lipp once bragged that he was a former United Auto Workers union member. How appropriate that he would identify with an old line, industrial-age assembly line union whose best days were a half-century ago. Teaching should be a profession but the unionized teacher has assumed the role of downtrodden prole.
It is significant that neither of the umbrella state teachers union organizations will participate in bipartisan efforts of the governor and Public Instruction Secretary Tony Evers to improve Wisconsin's schools. Cooperate? The union model is built on confrontation. It is adversarial by nature.
The UW-Madison faculty senate and the nurses at St. Mary's Hospital have eschewed organizing in favor of shared governance. That is the model to replace the contentious and failed union model. Enlightened business leaders already employ that model.
The teachers will say they didn't cause the nation's economic meltdown. But neither did the taxpayers or students of Milwaukee or the state as a whole. The irony is no one lost a job because of Scott Walker.
Today as you read this the Congress of the U.S. is busy repudiating the Keynesian pump-priming of the Obama stimulus. It's a new world out there, folks. Someone please tell the unions.