Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Value of Public Workers

We all know what's been going on. I have been a teacher for over 30 years. I have valuable experience, I have a Master's Degree, I have continued my training and learning all these years - I have stuck with it. I have a retirement plan based on all those years I have worked and I think I've earned it.

But, in the mind of Ohio's new governor, it can be taken away now. Young teachers who planned on supporting a family on a teacher's salary may have to kiss that idea good-bye. I wonder, in 10 years, who is going to be teaching our children, when it becomes a low class, disrespected, low paying job. Is anyone interested in the impact on children?? Do they really expect us to believe that this will balance the budget when all public workers in Ohio amounts to 9% ??

The sad thing is that teachers (I can't speak for police and firefighters) have always been willing to compromise and negotiate for the good of their students. But do we have the chance to compromise and negotiate now? No. When you take away the right to collectively bargain you take away everything.

I think teachers would have been quite willing to rethink and negotiate new agreements on tenure, retirement contributions, maybe even benefits - but we were not given the chance. We have been disrespected and somehow been labeled the enemy.

A small example would be last year when we were asked to give up some planning time during each day and an early dismissal day meant for parent conferences during the school day so the students had more instructional time. I did not hear any complaints (although we miss our early days) what I heard was - this is good for the students. We need more time to TEACH.

Labor unions were created to keep children from working adult hours, to provide workers with clean, safe workplaces, to assure break times and fair wages. Schools that run smoothly and efficiently do so, in part, because of conditions that unions have negotiated. Class sizes are not set for the convenience of teachers, but so that students have a fair and equal opportunity for a real education.

Forty-three years ago Martin Luther King was killed. In his last public speech he said, "You are doing many things here in this struggle. You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. . . all labor has dignity.

To question the dedication of public workers, to assume that we are all out for ourselves, when, in fact, the jobs we do are jobs of service to our communities, to blame us for the unbalanced budget, to take what we have worked for, does not give us dignity.

Will we hear about the governor and the legislators taking a pay cut? How about losing their benefits, or expense accounts? (Does anyone really believe that they actually work a 40 hour work week?) Or will they vote themselves another pay raise?


Susan said...

I do not question the teachers or where their hearts are at. I and the people I know do not blame the teachers. We blame the union who seems to be taking advantage of teachers without any protest. A lot of upset is because teacher's benefit's are some of the best health benefit's you could get in any other job in this country. Plus it seems the union runs the show. From the my understanding the government is trying to equal things out. Trying to make it so no one has an unfair amount of power. I could be misinformed, but many teachers know what they are getting into when they sign up. If you can't stand taking a few cuts in benefits and making a few sacrifices like everyone else in this country is struggling to do then don't do the job.

Rob-bear said...

I've had first-hand experience dealing with government people.
Question: "When is a deal not a deal?"
Answer: "When you make it with the government."
Sad, but true.
And you're right about governing people, and their ability to raise their salaries at whim.
Again, the hollowing-out of the middle class, for the benefit of the rich.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

first of all - the union IS the teachers. We would be willing to compromise or negotiate but now that right has been taken from us - we can be dictated to from now on - and no, we didn't sign up for that.