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Tribute, Turf Tax and the Teachers Unions

January 28, 2011 | Filed Under Anti-Americanism, Budget, Children, Democrats/Leftists, Economy/Finances, Education, Government, Larry Sand, Liberals, Public Employees Unions, Taxes, Teachers Unions, Unions | 1 Comment

-By Larry Sand

Before the Reformation, it was common for Europeans to pay Tribute to the Church. People across Europe would have to give something to Rome as a way of submitting to, or showing allegiance to, the church.

Tribute in another form came about in the U.S. the 1920s when organized crime carved up cities and claimed certain areas as their turf. Any legitimate person who wanted to start a business in a gang’s territory would have to pay a street or turf tax to the thugs just to do business.

While these concepts may seem alien to many of us in the West today, people here in our own country that toil away in non-right-to-work states must pay Tribute — in the form of union dues — if they want to be employed in certain professions.

Teachers in 28 states and Washington D.C. fall into this pay-to-play category. While this type of Tribute goes pretty much unchallenged, every now and then something comes up that you’d think would enrage those who are being victimized.

According to Barbara Martinez in The Wall Street Journal, “Randi Weingarten, the former head of the New York City teachers’ union, received $194,188 last year from the United Federation of Teachers for unused sick days and vacation time accrued before she left to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, boosting her total compensation to more than $600,000 for 2010.” (But then again, 80,000 teachers in New York fork over $125.6 million dollars every year with nary a complaint, so maybe an obscene payout to a union boss shouldn’t faze them.)

Also, according to the WSJ story, when Michael Mulgrew took over the UFT presidency last year, one of his first meetings “was held at the Brazilian steakhouse Churrascaria Tribeca and included 150 people. The bill was $6,400.”

That union leaders don’t think twice about living extravagantly at their members’ expense is typical of the nature of unionism in the U.S. today. It is especially hypocritical because these same union leaders love to rail against corporate greed and bemoan the plight of the underpaid teacher.

According to the New York Post, “Not many companies allow employees to cash out unused vacation days; even fewer pay out unused sick time on top of that.
“But, obviously, the world of organized labor is different.

“It’s gratifying to realize that the largesse isn’t coming directly from taxpayers for a change. But we wonder how UFT rank-and-filers feel about the boodle coming from their dues.”
Judging by their silence, the rank-and-filers don’t seem to care. To be sure, some don’t mind their forced status. But for the others, is it apathy? Ignorance? Resignation? Fear?

Whatever.

The Reformation was the beginning of the end of Tribute to Rome. The FBI did much to minimize organized crime and let people run their businesses without having to pay off the mob. But the unions and its leaders like Randi Weingarten seem to thrive — their hubris unrestrained by a compliant workforce and spineless legislators.

______
Larry Sand began his teaching career in New York in 1971. Since 1984, he has taught elementary school as well as English, math, history and ESL in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he also served as a Title 1 Coordinator. Recently retired, he is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues – information teachers will often not get from their school districts or unions.

CTEN was formed in 2006 because a wide range of information from the more global concerns of education policy, education leadership, and education reform, to information having a more personal application, such as professional liability insurance, options of relationships to teachers’ unions, and the effect of unionism on teacher pay, comes to teachers from entities that have a specific agenda. Sand’s comments and op-eds have appeared in City Journal, Associated Press, Newsweek, Townhall Magazine, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and other publications. He has appeared on numerous broadcast news programs in Southern California and nationally.

Sand has participated in panel discussions and events focusing on education reform efforts and the impact of teachers’ unions on public education. In March, Sand participated in a debate hosted by the non-profit Intelligence Squared, an organization that regularly hosts Oxford-style debates, which was nationally broadcast on Bloomberg TV and NPR, as well as covered by Newsweek. Sand and his teammates – Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution and former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, opposed the proposition – Don’t Blame Teachers Unions For Our Failing Schools. The pro-union team included Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In August, he was on a panel at the Where’s the Outrage? Conference in San Francisco, where he spoke about how charter school operators can best deal with teachers’ unions.

Sand has also worked with other organizations to present accurate information about the relationship between teachers and their unions, most recently assisting in the production of a video for the Center for Union Facts in which a group of teachers speak truthfully about the teachers’ unions.

CTEN maintains an active and strong new media presence, reaching out to teachers and those interested in education reform across the USA, and around the world, with its popular Facebook page, whose members include teachers, writers, think tankers, and political activists. Since 2006, CTEN has experienced dramatic growth.


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