UPDATED: The Entitlement Mentality of Certain Union Teachers & Their Leaders
I got a phone call today which passed along the following story:
When the Judge recently heard the case involving the illegal East Greenwich teachers’ union strike, a teacher went up to a parent at the courthouse and said “Thank you for your support.”
To which the parent replied: “I am supporting my child’s education and I want you to get back to work.”
And the teacher replied: “The town of East Greenwich has a lot of money. You have enough money to pay us more. You are hiding it all.”
Aren’t these union hacks brilliant?
Reminds me of the same entitlement nonsense talk said by the NEA back in 2005. Here is what NEA reps Roger Ferland and Jane Argenteri were quoted as saying about East Greenwich residents in a May 26, 2005 article entitled “Work-to-rule affecting EG school children” in the East Greenwich Pendulum newspaper (page 1, continuing onto page 6; hard-copy only available but referenced in this 2005 post):
- “The teachers had to do [contract compliance] to show parents how much extra teachers really do.”
- “[Work-to-rule] simply means we won’t do anything extra.”
- [Tutoring (i.e., any form of academic assistance) before or after school] is not part of their job description.”
- “Teachers have been doing more than what’s required for no money in the past.”
- “…a majority of East Greenwich residents can afford to hire tutors for their children but have been receiving these services free from public school teachers for years.”
- “More than 50% of East Greenwich residents have a very high income, $500,000 or over.”
- “In the private sector no one works overtime without getting paid. And if they’re off the clock at 5 p.m., you can bet they’re out the door at 5.”
- “…contract compliance is not hurting the children. Not going on a field trip isn’t hurting a child.”
Separately, I am told that certain union negotiators believe that, should the 3050 tax cap be eliminated or neutered, they expect all the “extra” monies to flow directly into higher teachers’ salaries and benefits – thereby ensuring taxes continue to go up faster than the increases in taxpayer incomes.
These people are smoking some serious mind-altering substances if they think that will ever happen. After all, the East Greenwich Town Council cut the school budget in each of the least two years – even before 3050 took effect.
Must be nice to live in the Entitlement Fantasy World.
Or, as Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy said in an October 2001 speech to the Economic Club of Detroit entitled Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy:
Economist Milton Friedman elaborated on this some time ago when he pointed out that there are only four ways to spend money. When you spend your own money on yourself, you make occasional mistakes, but they’re few and far between. The connection between the one who is earning the money, the one who is spending it and the one who is reaping the final benefit is pretty strong, direct and immediate.
When you use your money to buy someone else a gift, you have some incentive to get your money’s worth, but you might not end up getting something the intended recipient really needs or values.
When you use somebody else’s money to buy something for yourself, such as lunch on an expense account, you have some incentive to get the right thing but little reason to economize.
Finally, when you spend other people’s money to buy something for someone else, the connection between the earner, the spender and the recipient is the most remote — and the potential for mischief and waste is the greatest. Think about it — somebody spending somebody else’s money on yet somebody else. That’s what government does all the time.
But this principle is not just a commentary about government. I recall a time, back in the 1990s, when the Mackinac Center took a close look at the Michigan Education Association’s self-serving statement that it would oppose any competitive contracting of any school support service (like busing, food or custodial) by any school district anytime, anywhere. We discovered that at the MEA’s own posh, sprawling East Lansing headquarters, the union did not have its own full-time, unionized workforce of janitors and food service workers. It was contracting out all of its cafeteria, custodial, security and mailing duties to private companies, and three out of four of them were nonunion!
So the MEA — the state’s largest union of cooks, janitors, bus drivers and teachers — was doing one thing with its own money and calling for something very different with regard to the public’s tax money. Nobody — repeat, nobody — spends someone else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.
A truly cavalier attitude by the unions about their right to tap the hard-earned pay of working families and retirees in Rhode Island. Enough to make you really upset, isn’t it?
ADDENDUM, further updated on September 19:
I look forward to addressing some of the comments made below in a new blog post!
In the meantime, this post caused an East Greenwich school official to contact me and say that Jane Argenteri is making the same comment in this year’s negotiations about all the $500,000+ incomes in East Greenwich. This class warfare talk does get a bit old, especially when it – again – has no basis in fact. Sigh.
I recently held a second meeting with Maryanne Crawford, the Director of Administration for the East Greenwich School District. During that meeting, I learned the following:
- The average base salary cash compensation for East Greenwich teachers in 2007-08 is $58,674.
- The average of all other cash compensation for teachers in 2006-07 was $3,074. Nearly all of this is the impact of the $5,000 cash bonus for not using the health insurance plan. Other sources of cash payments come from serving as: (i) an advisor; (ii) a coach; (iii) a curriculum leader; (iv) a department chair; (v) a committee member; and, (vi) summer work.
- Therefore, the average total cash compensation paid to East Greenwich teachers is approximately $62,000.
From an earlier post, we also know that 29% (68 out of 231) of teachers take the cash bonus for not using the district’s health insurance plan so those teachers are clearly living in a household where another member works – and provides both a second income and health insurance. Furthermore, we know another 47% (110 out of 231) of teachers utilize the family health insurance plan where it is safe to assume some are the sole breadwinners and others are not but still provide the health insurance for the family. Therefore, we can conclude that more than 29% and less than 76% of teachers in East Greenwich have working spouses/significant others where there are 2 incomes in the household.
If we were to assume another working adult in the family earned another $60,000/year for 29-76% of the teachers, then the average household income for East Greenwich teachers would range between $77,000-106,000/year. If the other working adult in the family earned $90,000/year, then the average household income for East Greenwich teachers would range between $86,000-128,000/year.
According to the US census in 2000, the median household income in East Greenwich was $70,063 – as of 2000 but expressed in 1999 dollars.
In addition, I received some further information about the incomes of East Greenwich residents. A firm named Claritas, a company that tracks and projects demographic information. This person who contacted me works with them and contracted them to run projected 2006 data on the town.
The uploaded PDF report shows the following projections for the town of East Greenwich in 2006:
- Median household annual income: $82,629, with 46% of the households earning less than $75,000.
- 77% of households have incomes below $150,000.
- 4% of household have incomes over $500,000.
- Average household income: $122,723.
Besides it being clear – again – that Argenteri doesn’t know what she is talking about, my simple takeway is this: 46% of East Greenwich households earn less than $75,000/year and the average household income is $122,723. Teachers in East Greenwich make an average of about $62,000/year and – since somewhere between 29-76% of them have second incomes in their household – could realize average household incomes between $77,000-128,000/year.
So why should the taxpayers – many of whom live the same economic lifestyle as the teachers – have to fund entitlements which are greater than what they receive in their own paychecks? Should these same taxpayers, who are already taxed more than 80% of America, be required to suffer a further reduction in their standard of living?
And, even if you are unsympathetic to the plight of East Greenwich residents, do not forget that the NEA will take the terms of an eventual East Greenwich settlement to other less well-off towns around the state and demand that they accept similar contractual obligations.
Remember: Anchor Rising broke the news first about the East Greenwich teachers’ strike and remains THE place to go for information on the teachers’ strike and contract issues in Rhode Island. See the Extended Entry for all relevant links.
To get up to speed, here are the links – in chronological order – to all Anchor Rising posts about the East Greenwich teachers’ strike and the NEA:
Saying “No” to Legalized Extortion
Education Partnership Reports: Learning a lot more about RI teachers’ union contracts (The reports linked to in this post make an important contribution to understanding how teachers’ union contracts are about adult entitlements, not the education of our children.)
Reflecting on Labor Unions on Labor Day (This is a particularly important post for understanding the NEA’s political agenda and financial resources.)
Update on the East Greenwich Teachers’ Contract & Suggested Future Actions
Breaking News on Anchor Rising: East Greenwich Teachers to Strike on Tuesday (Anchor Rising was the first to report that teachers were going to strike.)
More on the Issues in the East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Strike (This is a particularly important post on the substantive issues in dispute in East Greenwich.)
The NEA’s Latest Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich
Sometimes What is Old is New: Misguided Incentives Drive Public Sector Taxation
East Greenwich School Committee: Press Release & General Update
Mr. Subliminal Must Have Written the EG Teachers “Open Letter”
The Continuing NEA Disinformation Campaign in East Greenwich: Lies, More Lies & Even Some Melodrama
News Flash: Judge Orders East Greenwich Teachers Back to Work on Friday, September 7
Another Lie by the NEA: East Greenwich Teachers Would Take Pay Cuts Under School Committee Proposals (This is an important post to read as it torpedoes another critical lie by the NEA.)
The NEA in East Greenwich: Reflections On The Week That Was (This post includes some important comments on the issues underlying the debate about the unresolved statewide education funding formula issue.)
The Two Alternatives Before Us: Educational Programs & Teacher Jobs OR Excessive Adult Entitlements (This post describes what will be the eventual tradeoffs.)
East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Contract Negotiations Update
Quantifying the Trend Which Led to the 3050 Tax Cap Law (This post shows how much faster the school budget went up versus the town budget.)
Other relevant posts on Anchor Rising include:
Burrillville Teachers to Students: Let the Pawns Skip School
Crowley, You Charmer
Researching from Outside the Library
Children Are Their Life? No, Children Are Their Leverage.
Citizen Context for Negotiations
One Side of the Phone Conversation
My Favorite Samuel Gompers Quote
The Guidebook to Public-Abuse
Not Quite Breaking (Except of Taxpayers’ Backs)
The Other Side of the Conversation in Tiverton
The Rhode Island Right’s Bizarro Politics
A Case of Crossed Hands
Best We Can Do Is Get Involved Every Time
The Continuing Saga of the Funding Formula Distraction — A Tale of Two Cities
(These three posts immediately above in this section address the important questions of (i) what RI law and court decisions say about teachers’ strikes; (ii) the tax cap and level funding of education; and, (iii) statewide education funding formula.)
This Is the Way the System Works, the System Works, the System Works
A Mere Suggestion for the Teachers’ Unions
Tiverton School Committee Shuffles Its Offer
Hold on, hold on. Keep the money coming!
These Are Professionals?
Other Public Education News
The Teachers’ Unions’ Lack of Moral Character