Folks, the Neighborhood has been in a slight transition as Mr. D is currently looking for a new car. Long and short of it, because of a mishap on the I-95 over the weekend, it has become important to find an alternate means of transportation. I’m currently hopping between car dealerships, doing the usual rigmarole of sitting while the salesperson “speaks to the manager” while I twiddle my thumbs thinking of the most dramatic way to leaving on an overpriced Nissan. Thus, my mind has been distracted as of late.
No matter, let’s dive into a subject near and dear to a knife-wielding Italian like myself–labor unions. Ah yes, to return to a time when the stubborn district superintendent could be surrounded by swarthy toughs with chair legs and ball peen hammers. Okay, so it was never like that in the education racket, but I can dare to dream.
The New York Post, in yet another salvo at New York’s teacher union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), ran a story about my old punching bag, KIPP academies. It seems that the teachers in two of these academies have filed with the state to kick the UFT out of their schools, citing excessive meddling in school affairs without consulting the staff beforehand. It appears that the union filed grievances on behalf of the membership without consulting the members first, even as the UFT has been representing teachers at the school for at least 12 years.
All of the facts have not been disclosed on this, but if what is being alleged is true, then the UFT has truly overstepped its bounds and acted in an authoritarian manner. The membership must be, at the very least, consulted in any grievance that is submitted on behalf of the entire chapter or the entire union. That is the point of a union–to act in the best interests of the membership, led at the pleasure of the membership.
Do not take this as meaning that Mr. D is anti-union…far from it. As much as capitalism inspires the best in us economically, politically and entrepreneurially, it often also inspires the worst in us socially. Societal problems are seldom profitable, but without labor unions acting as a responsible counterweight to the demands of the management, capitalism itself can collapse in chaos and conflict.
Note that I used the word responsible; there are too many examples of labor overstepping its boundaries just as management has often abused working people. The Teamsters are the prime example, especially their stormy relationship with organized crime. Many early industrial unions joined radical groups like the Industrial Workers of the World, which advocated violent revolution. The Communist influence on unions is also well documented. The UFT may have also stepped into this category with this incident, although the facts have yet to prove this definitively.
My hope is that the UFT can solve this problem amicably with the membership…not for nothing, but those KIPP freaks and their chanting and slogans need a good pop in the yap. At least the UFT dental plan can cover their lost teeth.
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New Website for Kids: MEET ME AT THE CORNER Astronomy Visit to Palomar Observatory
I am a children’s author with a new website for kids called MEET ME AT THE CORNER (www.meetmeatthecorner.org), a series of free kid-friendly video podcasts for kids.
Geared to children ages 7-12, MeetMeAtTheCorner.org is a dynamic, interactive site, which encourages individual expression and participation through video submissions from children worldwide. Through these video pod casts, the site creates a community of children who learn the art of self-expression and storytelling through video. The site is free of charge.
MeetMeAtTheCorner.org currently offers more than 40 three- to four- minute episodes. Recent additions include interviews with famous artists and writers, trips to a variety of New York City historic and cultural landmarks, and introductions to unusual hobbies. New trips are added every three weeks.
I thought your readers might enjoy the current episode featuring astronomer Dennis Mammana and a virtual field trip to the Paolomar Observatory. The visit celebrates 2009 The International Year of Astronomy.
Would you review our site and pass it on to your readers?