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.