The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) engaged in a campaign against the Port of Longview which included obstructing the railway that serves the port. Unfortunately for the demonstrating longshoremen, that’s illegal, so several months later the union’s international president is on trial.
Actually, he’s on trial for the second time (the first trial ended in a hung jury). According to the local newspaper, prosecutors argue that ILWU president Robert McEllrath directed his members to obstruct train tracks during a protest. McEllrath’s attorneys had a different view:
Union attorney Neil Fox, who is defending McEllrath along with Thomas Phelan, said despite his client’s high position in the union, he does not control the members.
“This is not a traditional top-down union,” he said. “It’s a democratic union. … He can’t dictate to all the members.”
So the union’s international president isn’t in charge of a union demonstration. That’s not how the Associated Press reported it back when the demonstrations occurred: “The train […] arrived Wednesday night after police arrested 19 demonstrators who tried to block the tracks. They were led by McEllrath, who said they would return.”
McEllrath’s lawyers will be attempting to convince a jury that the president wasn’t in charge as the trial continues. We’ll see how credible jurors think that claim is.
Another overreaching union from California found itself in trouble as it extended its claws to McAllen, Texas. Two years ago, nurses at Rio Grande Regional Hospital were subject to a union organizing campaign after the hospital and its parent company, HCA Holdings, entered into a “neutrality agreement” with the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC). By handicapping themselves against the organizing onslaught, the hospital became a union shop.
NNOC bosses filed “objections” to the election with the NLRB. However, rather than litigate their objections publicly under NLRB election rules, the union bosses simultaneously invoked a private “arbitration” procedure created by the HCA-NNOC pact and held a “hearing” on the objections before an “arbitrator” handpicked by union officials and the company.
Making a further mockery of the NLRB’s election rules, NNOC union officials subpoenaed Glass to appear and testify under oath about the campaign to remove the union from her workplace. She was also directed to produce for union inspection all documents that the nurses created in their election campaign to oppose the NNOC union bosses.
NRTW helped Glass fend off the attacks from NNOC and in September, NNOC waived the white flag and exited Rio Grande Hospital.
One is a referendum on a law passed in 2011, Public Act 4, that enables appointed “emergency managers” of financially troubled cities and school districts to override union contracts.
Another would lock into the state constitution a system set up under former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, in which home health workers are designated as public employees even if self-employed. The effect would be to channel part of the tax subsidies for home health care into dues and fees to the Service Employees International Union.
The SEIU dues skim has already helped the union pocket $32 million.
IBD says that the votes will come down to the wire. If we go by the polling and a vote on the three pro-union initiatives was held today, the SEIU healthcare dues bonanza would pass, but the emergency manager law and Proposal 2 are still too close to call.
Some workers were also forced to miss apprenticeship training to volunteer for union political activities, like manning phone banks for Gov. Jerry Brown’s election campaign.
So when the GPS employees knew that decertification was an option, they did just that—and the union tried to stop them.
The National Labor Relations Board requested Council 36 be reinstated, but that just prompted the workers to file a motion to intervene in the case between the union and the company to prove that the company was not behind their effort.
The result? Employees win: Council 36 was decertified at GPS.
On late Saturday, following a teachers rally, sources from the CTU House of Delegates meeting reported that CTU leadership was accused of negotiating a bad deal.
The source added that late into Saturday night, [CTU President Karen] Lewis’ caucus shouted obscenities at her and the other leaders. “You sold out” and “Rahm’s getting everything they wanted, what the hell did we get?” [t]he source quoted caucus members saying to her.
The source reported that Lewis, who was at this point is exhausted [sic], indicated she’s done negotiating and asked “Will my own caucus defy me?”
The CTU says that the delegates need more time to review the proposal. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seeking an injunction to end the strike and force teachers back into the classroom. He’s referring to this latest action by CTU as “a delay of choice.”
Meanwhile, the national American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the CTU’s parent union, is allegedly fearing a backlash and wants a settlement soon. As the AFT and National Education Association (NEA) know, teachers unions already stand on shaky ground, even among their own members.
AFT and NEA learned that lesson in Wisconsin, as both of their affiliated state unions lost 35 percent and 22 percent of their members respectively after Governor Scott Walker instituted reforms to make union membership voluntary.
What matters is what educators do in the face of poverty. That’s why Mr. Emanuel was right to push for an evaluation system that differentiates among teachers and values those who are effective in getting children to learn.
No one thinks that teachers’ whole careers should be based on one standardized test. Evaluations must be fair, tests need to be improved and standards must be tightened. But unions need to stop blaming poverty and become part of the solution. If they don’t think they can, they should stop standing in the way of charter schools that give parents the option of teachers who believe their children can learn.
There must be some CTU members who are not as radical as Lewis’ caucus, and would agree with the Washington Post and accept Emanuel’s reforms. But without any other options, those teachers who want to be part of the education solution, not lining Big Labor’s pockets, are stuck at home—neither working nor getting paid—for at least two more days. Don’t be surprised if those teachers spend the time perusing the classified ads in a Wisconsin newspaper.
We’ve come a long way from New York Times Co. v. Sullivan.
The landmark 1964 Supreme Court case outlined the rules of the game for newspapers, stating what they could print without being guilty of libel and subject to damages.
We’re reminded of the case today after the Chicago Tribune refused to run one of our Teachers Union Exposed ads because it had “racial undertones.” The ad features the image of Alabama Governor George Wallace’s infamous stand at the schoolhouse door, in which he refused to allow black students to register for classes at a segregated university. In the ad we said that “Someone New Is Blocking The School House Door: Teachers Unions.” It’s our response to the Chicago Teachers Union strike, which is stopping students of all races from going to school.
Ironically, in the New York Times case, the Supreme Court decided that the newspaper was protected from liability for an ad it ran that was critical of Alabama officials and their actions against the civil rights movement.
But as Executive Director Rick Berman told the Weekly Standard, the Tribune is missing the point if it thinks this ad is about race.
While the photo depicts a terrible racist incident in American history, the message of the ad has nothing to do with race–only with the efforts of teachers unions to block students from getting a good education. An effort which is currently very much on display in Chicago.
As the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) continues to move back its estimates as to when students can get back into the classroom, it’s getting shielded from criticism in the media.
CTU is trying hard to get what’s best for them, stopping students at the door. If that makes CTU’s strikers look like Governor Wallace, that’s their problem to deal with, and we won’t let the Chicago Tribune stop us from exposing them.
The average Chicago teacher’s salary is $76,000—higher than any other metropolitan district;
The average Chicago resident’s salary is $47,000;
The average annual teacher pension payout in Illinois is $41,000;
CPS is facing a $1 billion shortfall at year’s end;
The school day was, until recently, only five hours and 45 minutes, and;
52% of Chicago fourth graders can’t read at a basic level.
CTU President Karen Lewis and the union aren’t shy that they think they deserve better, and they aren’t even shouting out the usual rhetoric about making schools better for kids. It’s all about them.
So-called “job security” measures, not compensation, appear to be driving the walkout. The Chicago Tribune explains that the recall policy and teacher evaluations are the biggest obstacles to a resolution.
CTU wants to make sure that teachers who are let go get first dibs on any new vacancies. Emmanuel wants principals to decide whom to hire for the open positions, rather than putting it in the hands of the board or the union. CPS has offered a unique plan that still gives opportunities for CTU teachers to remain employed, or to take severance pay. But CTU still isn’t happy, much to the detriment of the education of Chicago students:
Jeanne Allen, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform, said recall policies do not encourage improvement or change within school districts but rather a status quo that has never led to improvement in educating children.
And while the rest of the world faces job evaluations based on results, the CTU has other ideas in mind. They are adamantly against any evaluations that focus on student test scores. As Lewis says in the CTU’s official press statement:
After the initial phase-in of the new evaluation system it could result in 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations will be based on students’ standardized test scores. This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.
Being a teacher is not just about putting on a good pedagogical show. Being a teacher means that you must teach so that students learn. Of course outside pressures are a factor — but what does Lewis want to do to fix that? CTU doesn’t have a proposal other than “we don’t like it.”
Lewis and the CTU have no problem admitting that they are in this battle only for themselves. As Emanuel put it, this is a “strike of choice.” Teachers unions have chosen their own over the children.