City Journal Winter 2016

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Winter 2016
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Pete Peterson
No Volunteers, Please, We’re Unionized « Back to Story

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Many public employees have forgotten that schools aren't jobs programs. Schools don't exist to provide well paid, full time work. Many non-teaching jobs have been created in the last couple of decades that never existed before. Have they improved education? Not by a long shot. Employees aren't the number 1 thing in schools. They aren't even the second. Kids are first, Taxpayers are second. If it isn't helping kids, I can guarantee it is helping taxpayers.
"Is there any union in this country or around the world that cares about the companies that employ the workers or the customers that receive their products or services?"

I'm no union fan, but unions should care about the companies they work for when the companies care about the employees that work for them. Wake up everybody! The unions AND the corporations are in it for themselves. And its always the non-union workforce that gets dumped on.
I say keep the volunteers and let the unions sue the schools. Once the case is brought public opinion will be so against the unions they will have no choice but to back down and get the heck out of the way of people trying to do what is best for our children. Hopefully this will turn public opinion against unions in general throughout the whole state. Unions are a relic of the past.
John, Sounds like you are you a teacher.

Feel threatened by volunteering parents ?

Protecting the Union turf ?
Maybe the "volunteers" should just open their own school and eliminate the problem of uppity, overpaid state workers interfering with the proper education of the children.
Unions are evil. Period
Meanwhile, the charter school my sons attend requires 20 hrs of volunteer work from parents every year and they are kicking the pants off the local unionized government school.
It's time the unions have a dose of reality. They are the problem not the solution!
Quoting OC ..."We may make $30-40 an hour, but we get almost no work. "

Maybe because there are qualified non-union workers willing to work for $15, or $20, or $25/hr?

Artificially forcing inflated compensation only works in the gov't sector (and we're doing our best to change that by reducing their inflated pay, and especially pensions & benefits). It DOESN'T work in the Private sector because there are always employers who won't submit to unfair Union workers' excessive demands.

Ten years ago the laborer's union had one of those inflated rats in front of a local (non-union) project. If asked one of the Union picketers what was going on, and he proceeded to tell me how outrageous it was that the contractor hired non-union laborers and refused to pay the then (1999 if I recall correctly) union hourly wage of $35.

I asked what they do and he described general labor ... carrying cinder blocks over to the walls to being laid-up by the masons, etc. I then asked why he though such work was worth $35/hr. I had to leave at that point .... he was really mad I had the nerve to ask such a question.

Need I say more .....
"Tocqueville never met Loretta Kruusmagi."

That's fine because I would doubt that SHE ever even heard of him.....
I just posted a link to this piece to my blog --
Bringing in people to do the jobs of unionized members is most likely a violation of the contract with the union. I did a school a couple years ago and my job was to install all the doors and hardware. Easily two weeks worth of work. The company was behind schedule so they brought in more union members. Fine. Then they got the bright idea to bring in a non-union company over the weekend to install a bunch of the doors, while no one else was there. Monday morning we came in and half the doors were installed. We ended up getting laid off early. When we complained to the union, they did nothing. We were basically told that the owner of the union signatory company was good friends with someone high up so they did nothing about it. There may be a bunch of lazy people in some unions, but this isn't one of them. We don't get paid some ridiculous amount and we don't have some fancy health care or pension. In fact, most of the members get so little work that they don't qualify for the health care. Most are poor because the companies pull stuff like this all the time. We may make $30-40 an hour, but we get almost no work. Does $20k a year sound like I'm rich? Plus all the tools we need are paid for out of our own pockets.
It's things like this that make me believe that public unions should be abolished.

Volunteers should be welcomed with open arms. I think many people today never consider volunteering at a public school. Mostly due to attitudes of public employees and also due to the amount of school taxes that they have paid (they aren't going to get lower school taxes by volunteering).

No private school could exist without volunteers, things need to be changed at public schools to bring back the volunteer spirit that no longer exists there.

Many public employees have forgotten that schools aren't jobs programs. Schools don't exist to provide well paid, full time work. Many non-teaching jobs have been created in the last couple of decades that never existed before. Have they improved education? Not by a long shot. Employees aren't the number 1 thing in schools. They aren't even the second. Kids are first, Taxpayers are second. If it isn't helping kids, I can guarantee it is helping taxpayers.

Classroom helpers and extra lunch ladies, janitors etc, SHOULD BE mostly volunteers, not paid help.

I think another reason volunteers aren't welcomed by union members (and school districts) is that they would see some of the practices that taxpayers would never stand for.
Quoting Norma Green ..."It is due to volunteers doing our jobs that we no longer have a full time positions."

I'd bet they'd have the money to make a good percentage of those part-time positions full-time if ALL the full-time workers had pensions & benefits no greater than the average Private Sector worker making the same cash wages.
I have worked in a school district for 25 years and in order to work there I had to pass tests, be fingerprinted, had to prove I didn't have a communicable disease and a thorough background check was done to see if I had served time for any felony. In that 25 years, I have seen our work be cut from 8 hour to 1 hour positions, with no benefits. There are only a few 8 hour positions left. Most of the positions are 1 to 3 1/4 hour in order that the district's don't have to pay any benefits for retirement, sick leave, medical, hospitalization, dental or vision. We begin work in any of these positions at minimum wage. It is due to volunteers doing our jobs that we no longer have a full time positions. We also had to go through the above mentioned process that volunteers do NOT have to go through. Therefore, there are not any sexual perverts, child abuse predators, confidentiality breeches just to name a few concerns that happen with volunteers.

I have see volunteers give out other student's addresses and phone numbers, I have seen volunteers take a neighbor child into the bathroom and shake the child for something that had happened at the volunteers residence after school. I have heard volunteers giving out confidential information on other students. Therefore, I would ask you if you would like volunteers that are telling student's to beat on other students that are disrupting class or for some other infraction.
It was a volunteer that reported another a parent to child protection for what they thought was a child beating because they didn't know the proper proceedures for investigating any type of abuse.

When there is an earthquake or other natural disaster, a volunteer doesn't have the training or know what to do for the safety of ALL children as they only help their own child(ren). Voluteers that are allowed to copy confidential information and use it against other parents is another safety matter.

Now days there are more drugs, weapons to name a few, being brought to school. Volunteers do not have the training in order to handle these everyday occurances.

We do not have a contract or union in the sense of UNION. We are given a reasonable assurance each year stating they might hire us back the following year. We have to pay for our own medical, hospitalization, dental, vision, retirement for any position less that 8 hours. Most of the Classified Employees are protected by an Association, i.e., California School and State Employees Association (CSEA).

The government demanded two furlough days last year for some school employees and five days for state employees. Which means those days are without pay and no work. This in turn means that our children are given less days of educational time. The districts gives those days to substitutional employees or volunteers. These people that work during our furlough days are unqualified and do not know the safety guidelines. Example, parents painting classrooms with lead based paints. Created more work for the employees upon their return to scrape off the paint and repaint with safe environmental products. So when our state government says that we are to take 5 to 9 days this year for furloughs, they don't have to pay for your childrens education for those days and there are no guarantees of quality. We are the parents of these children that ran the gauntlet and trained at our own expense to protect ALL of the children in these schools. So if these volunteers want to help then go through the process of being tested, fingerprinted, back ground checked, health screening and trainings to join us in protecting yours and our children and their education.

The wages range from #16,000 to #22,000 for the first year depending on how many hours you work. You will have to pay for your own benefits and retirement if you are less than an eight hour employee. If you are a single parent you will probably have to apply for welfare and food subsidies or find a second job in order to provide for your children.

In solidarity for quality education for all children.
Decertify all public unions,state and federal.Then start from scratch and institute a workable system that is fair and reasonable to all sides!Unionism was necessary in 1930--no need today!
As usual, the union puts the interests of the students first! Ya' gotta really admire the union for ensuring that the needs of the students are taken care of before their own needs.

This is a sad reality that is bankrupting municipalities, states and households.

Imagine being told that you cannot volunteer in your child's own classroom.
Just more proof that Public Sector Unions are a CANCER on society and must be eliminated.
So the basis of this piece is "unions represent their members' interests and prefer to paid work to volunteering". Its hardly "man bites dog".
WOW! I dont even know where to start. What is worse: the fact that you equate union activism, i.e. workers' efforts to keep their jobs, with self-interest or that you so opportunistically play the "children" card to justify massive layoffs? If Petaluma were truly the idyllic community Hollywood glorifies, I think we should see the good intentions of parents and other concerned citizens translate not in volunteering or civic activism, which is after all free labor which both government and business love because they don't need to pay you or give you benefits, but in showing solidarity with CSEA workers. And if you want to play the children card, indeed these children might be the victims of our next recession 5-10 years down the road: the layoffs, the precariously employed, the foreclosed. But there will never be any anger or resistance about it because what the kids learn from this debacle is that it is more important that their classes on the uniqueness of American democracy keep running, than help their co-citizens fight for their jobs. Actually, that's a lesson in American democracy as well!
Actually, I am glad these public employee unions are getting their knickers in a twist. Their temper tantrums and ME ME ME thought processes belie their supposed benevolence. They are increasingly showing themselves for what they are... greedy and selfish bullies. Good job they don't have me to go up against at the school district's management level. I'd tell them flatly go away and do your assigned work properly and without conplaint, and say no more about private citizens filling in the breaches left empty by fiscal mismanagement. If they continue, begin firing them. I would also extend to them the offer of filling those noon time people slots that are empty... for the same wage the volunteers will do it. It is the unions have brought on this mess anyway.... smaller classrooms, shorter workweeks, higher wages, crazy pension/retirement plans.... they just don't get it that "government" means "pockets" (of private citizens) when it comes to funds to pay THEIR wages. Maybe they'll "get it" standing in the unemployment lines when there is NO money to pay teachers. Or administrators. After all, THEY won't be working then, will they?
California School Employees’ Association (CSEA) Liars Prove "It's NOT About the Kids"
Is there any union in this country or around the world that cares about the companies that employ the workers or the customers that receive their products or services? No. The unions care about only the following:
1) getting as much as they can for their workers. In the past that was admirable given the very poor and often dangerous conditions. But they have gone beyond that and are bankrupting their employers.
2) getting as much money/perks/etc. for their union leaders. Often at the expense of the workers.
3) using the union dues not for helping the workers or funding the workers' pension fund (the leaders pension is always funded) but for helping elect corrupt politicians who will continue to help the union leaders bankrupt the city, state, country, or business that employs them.
Well, then, if that's the way Ms. Kruusmagi wants it, every parent in Petaluma's school district should just walk off their jobs that they just so happen to be doing *voluntarily.* Let Ms. Kruusmagi figure out how to pick up the slack with the union personnel she has available. And if I were the school district leadership, I would intentionally turn a complete deaf ear to the whining that will most surely result. No carping about the longer hours that aren't a part of the contract, no complaining about having to do a job that's "not in my job description." She doesn't *want* help, so she shouldn't get any. Go on strike? If she plays that card, I'd respond by decertifying the union altogether.