A Sentiment for the Times?

Having conducted no research along these lines, I can only speculate, but I wonder whether the sentiments expressed here, by Jason Burns of Johnston, are increasingly permeating the state:

Regarding the May 1 letter “My job working in danger for peanuts”: The problem with unions is that we taxpayers pay members’ salaries, then the members pay union dues to have someone negotiate on their behalf to take more money from the taxpayers.
I work, or rather I used to work, in the private sector and was recently laid off, terminated at the whim of the business’s owners, who brought in a new plant manager. This doesn’t happen to union people. They have a bulletproof vest. They can’t walk in on Friday and be walked out two hours later wondering what happened and how they’re going to feed their family. …
Every year I had to fight on my own, face-to-face at a table with the plant manager and one of the owners, explaining why I deserve a raise of 3 to 4 percent, explaining what improvement I’ve made and what problems I’ve solved. I had to defend my worth, only to see my health insurance go up 5 percent each year, taking my raise and then some. The company matching 401(k) wasn’t bad, but after expenses for a family of four with a mortgage, there wasn’t much left to contribute.

In ways direct and insinuated, Mr. Burns expresses a bit of envy, but that strikes me as being envious of the extortionist. Private sector unions’ proving to companies that they are better off negotiating is one thing. When it comes to the RI public sector, one too often gets the impression that the attitude is “it’s wrong, but let me in.” The ill wind has perhaps changed for the better if that attitude is becoming “it’s wrong, and the game is ending, so I can’t get in.”
The negative impetus is not ideal, of course, but Jason’s description of the private-sector review process is illustrative of the contrast between union and non-union, which offers a more rational reason for change. Employees who know that hard work and demonstrable accomplishments will be their only real leverage come raise time will tend to be more productive; the huge (civically fatal) inefficiencies of government bureaucracy are evidence that unionization inclines the other way.
A fair assessment requires acknowledgment that there are certain automatonic careers in which opportunities to stand out are limited and the value to the company of an employee’s longevity is minimal. In such cases, the union approach makes more sense — not the least because it suppresses the possibility of standing out mainly in willingness to take reckless risks in the workplace. In professions for which experience and individual talent are key and opportunities to prove them manifold — teaching, say — one might be inclined to wonder whether the sorts of people who desire unionization are the sorts of people one wishes to have on the job, especially when their direct managers are subject to ballot-box manipulation and the money to sate their hunger is taken by force of law.

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George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

The whiny ACI union guard, Neil Kando, to which Mr. Burns was responding is the perfect example of the lunacy of our Public Sector Unions.
On the one hand, Kando whined that he earns $44,000 and hasn’t had a raise since 2002, that he “hates” his job, that he is “stuck watching murderers.”
It begs the question: if Kando hasn’t received a raise in 5 years, if he hates his job, etc., why does he stay? Why don’t Kando find another job?
The answer is simple and two-fold: The union hack knows he’s got a good deal and the union hack knows that if he entered the real world (i.e. outside the cradle of the Union) and let the Free Market determine his worth, he’d never get the sweet deal he’s got.
For someone to say he’s “stuck” implies we march him off to work every day at the point of a gun. Indeed, the only people that are “stuck” are the taxpayers that are forced to employ and pay the ridiculous pay and benefits to Union hacks such as Mr. Kando, who by his own admission, couldn’t and wouldn’t survive in the real world.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Let me state for the record before you start ASSUMING, I am a retiree, do not belong to a union and was management in my past live. “Union Membership, by States Source: Monthly Labor Review Online, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web: http://www.bls.gov. In 2005, 12.5% of wage and salary workers were union members, unchanged from 2004. The number of persons belonging to a union rose slightly over the year to nearly 15.7 million in 2005. The union membership rate has declined from a high of 20.1% in 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available. Union membership among wage and salary workers shows a distinct geographic pattern, according to the Current Population Survey. Union membership is highest in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific regions, and lowest in the South. Five states had union membership rates over 20% in 2005: New York (26.1%), Hawaii (25.8%), Alaska (22.8%), and Michigan and New Jersey (20.5% each). These states have been among the most unionized since at least 1995. North Carolina and South Carolina continued to report the lowest union membership rates, 2.9% and 2.3%, respectively.” The State of Hawaii has a Republican Governor and Democratic controlled General Assembly. The state budget has had surpluses for the last few years and under Hawaii constitutional law the excess funds must be returned to the taxpayers. Budget surplus is projected for this fiscal year and rebate checks are scheduled for income tax returns. The NEA teachers in Hawaii are highly respected. Hawaii has one school district. The state and city public employees are highly respected. Police and firemen are highly respected. Beaches are free with free parking and lifeguards in the state of Hawaii. Hawaii has a nationally recognized and awarded mass transit system. The Governor rescinded an Ethanol gasoline tax to help… Read more »

Tom Kenney
12 years ago

Mr. Elbow states:
……..Indeed, the only people that are “stuck” are the taxpayers who are forced to employ and pay the ridiculous pay and benefits to Union hacks such as Mr. Kando………….
I do not know Mr. Kando. I do know other ACI Guards.
Ridiculous pay & benefits??????
You also state “…who by his own admission…”. Not true. Outright lie.
Mr. Kando stated in his original post that he remains in his current job to pay for his kids college. That’s why he stays.
Give it a break, George. Your reply could have been posted for any union worker who posted any complaint about his job or the treatment of union workers. Your opinion has much less to do about these individuals’ post and reply as it does about union workers in general.

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Tom Kenney,
Do you have a point?
My point, was, and is, that Mr. Kando whines about his job … “I’m stuck watching murderers”, “I don’t like my job”, “I am still making my 2002 salary of $44,000”, etc.
Yet for all his complaints and whining, he stays in the job.
Why is that? The reason is obvious. He he couldn’t get a better deal if he tried. There is no “outright lie” there, Mr. Kenney.
He couldn’t possibly find a job that would pay more to “allow him to pay for his kids college”. He couldn’t find a recession proof job paying $44,000 plus all the OVERTIME he wants, plus near free HEALTHCARE, plus a PENSION that will grow by at least 3% per year,etc. etc.! No, Mr. Kando knows he could never come close to the deal he’s got if he left the job he “doesn’t like” and tried to work in the Private sector.
And that was the point of Mr. Jason Burns’ letter responding to Mr. Kando. Mr. Kando whines about his job and it’s working conditions, when there are people like Mr. Burns that don’t even have a job to complain about. And when Burns did have a job, he too wasn’t getting raises, he was paying close to $11,000 a year for healthcare and wasn’t getting a taxpayer funded Pension.
Face it Tom, Mr. Kando is a coddled Union whiner who has NO clue what its like to work in the real world. And that was the message of Mr. Burns, which started this post.

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken –
Does the NEA in Hawaii have the likes of Bob Walsh and Pat Crowley heading it up, defending the fact that RI’s teachers are amongst the top ten highest paid in the nation while RI’s public school performance is in the bottom 10?
Do the Fire department Unions in Hawaii have people like Paul Doughty heading them up, who don’t show up to work for 3+ years (except to collect overtime) while collecting a taxpayer funded paycheck and benefits? Does Hawaii have Unions that say “we don’t care what the people of Hawaii can afford to pay, we should be paid what other big states are paying?”
Perhaps if you did, Hawaii, instead of RI, would lead the nation in the per-capita cost of firefighters.
Does Hawaii have more than 1 out of every 6 employed person being employed by the Public sector? If it did, then Hawaii, rather than RI, could be the Nanny State coddling Union members living off the tit of the taxpayer from cradle to grave.

Tom Kenney
12 years ago

Mr. Elbow,
No outright lie? “YOU” assume he could do no better in the private sector.
“YOU” assume he has no clue what it’s like to work in the real world.
Yet you state “by his own admission”. That’s not a lie?
You can’t state things that are absolutely false about someone just to prove your point.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

George Elbow, Can you read and understand the English language? State of Hawaii is the second most unionized state in the nation! If all your talk about how unions in general drain the taxpayer dollar with high salaries, high benefits, high retirement then as I said, Hawaii should be right beside or ahead of RI circling down the drain. As for the Bob Walsh, Pat Crowley, Paul Doughty; in every state you will find the likeness just like you’ll find a George Elbow along side of them in the same bucket. When I was associated and worked with the State of RI, I dealt with Directors and Assistant Directors making $80K-$90K Then Governor Donald L. Carcieri was elected and indicated state public servants did not understand how to operate or do business and he would teach public servants (break even) how to operate on a business model (for profit). Governor Donald L. Carcieri set up a fiscal fitness team of employee that were paid their regular management or blue collar union salary while they scrutinized other department and divisions for streamline savings. The suggestions implemented was reported and estimated to save RI hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where are the reported estimated savings to the taxpayers? There were added costs incurred because people were not doing their regular jobs and most all of these Fiscal Fitness Team members are now working at other preferred jobs or positions. At the same time Governor Donald L. Carcieri created the Executive Director position with a salary in the $100K plus range with the Director position reporting up to the Executive position. RI now had another level of executive management with salaries and benefits higher than RI had ever seen paid before. Along with the Executive Director position Governor Donald L. Carcieri executive branch… Read more »

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken,
Yes, I can read the English language. Can you?
I asked a few simple questions, none of which you answered.
Let’s try again:
Does Hawaii have teachers that are within the Top 10 paid in the nation, while school performance is in the bottom 10?
Does Hawaii have the highest per-capita cost of firefighters in the nation?
Are 1 in 6 of Hawaii’s employed people employed by the Public sector?
Perhaps you could get a translator and answer the above questions.
RI’s public employee Unions are all about the members, they could care less about the State.
In fact, I think you know that, and as such, fled the mess for greener pastures.

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Mr. Kenney,
Try to follow the logic pattern:
1 + 1 = 2.
2 + 2 = 4.
The sun rises in the morning and sets at night.
“I’m stuck watching murderers + I don’t like my job + I am still making my 2002 Salary” = Despite my whining and disdain for my job, I know I’ve got a good deal and couldn’t possibly find a job with equal pay & benefits, else I’d leave the job I profess to be so miserable.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

George Elbow-
You really are a BS exposer. The only reason I haven’t been posting much lately is that you are saying it all.
Pity the poor state/municipal tit suckers. Their setup is so bad they are always “this close” to joining the “lucrative private sector”.
LOL.

Tom Kenney
12 years ago

Mr. Elbow,
As is always the case with “your kind”, “you” make the deductions and the attribute them to someone else.
You don’t see that just because you take something to be “logical” you can’t attribute it to someone else – do you?

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

George Elbow,
Please provide links to documentation supporting your assertions and I’ll answer your questions.
And yes, HI is a lot greener and warmer than FL!

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken, I know you say otherwise, but I can’t help but think you were in the Union, as you prefer others to do the work. But to be helpful and get you started, I’ll give you the following: 1) Google “Teacher Pay Ranking by State”. You’ll find the NEA’s report (yes, the UNION’s report) in which RI is #9 (i.e in the Top 10) in Teacher pay at $53,473. Hawaii is #19 at $46,149. 2) From the same NEA report, you will find the RI has a student enrollment of 160,574. Hawaii has an enrollment of 183,185. 3) From the same NEA report, you will find that RI has 14,171 dues paying teachers (i.e. 11.3 students per teacher). Hawaii has 11,365 teachers (i.e. 16.1 students per teacher). So, RI is not only paying significantly HIGHER salaries than Hawaii, but we are also paying for far more dues paying teachers (RI has 11.3 students per teacher; Hawaii has a 16.1 ratio). 4) Google “SAT Scores State Rankings”. You will see that for 2007, RI ranked #40 (i.e. bottom 10). Hawaii is also ranked at the bottom end (perhaps since your arrival?), but they are NOT in the Top 10 for spending either. Ken, I could go on. But the facts, no matter how you slice them, are clear. Rhode Islanders are one of the highest taxed people in the nation, yet we have massive budget deficits. We lose jobs in the Private sector, resulting in fewer people paying taxes, yet we can NOT reduce the number of Public sector employees to offset the lost Private Sector jobs and their related tax receipts due to Union rules (e.g. “bumping”). Give it up Ken, like the Union hacks that are destroying this state and driving taxpayers like yourself out of it, you don’t… Read more »

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Mr. Kenney,
Perhaps you should go back and read whiny Neil Kando’s original letter.
He is the one that made “deductions”.
Let me help you. Here is what he said:
“I doubt that you, with your “private-sector” job and East Greenwich address, are making less than $100,000 a year.” I guess he “deducted” that anyone living in EG earns at least $100k.
“ask yourself why a multimillionaire who probably makes more on his savings-account interest than the people of Rhode Island pay him.” I guess he “deducted” how much the Gov has in the bank and what rate of interest he is earning?
So spare me the lecture. Go lecture whiny Neil Kando.
He’s the guy who wrote, in addition to the above nonsense, the following: “I’m stuck watching murderers”, “don’t like my job” and “I am still making my 2002 Salary” …but refuses to go find another job …because he obviously couldn’t match the good deal he’s got.
Do you have a better explanation / “deduction” as to why he stays in a job he despises?

Monique
12 years ago

“RI has 14,171 dues paying teachers (i.e. 11.3 students per teacher). Hawaii has 11,365 teachers (i.e. 16.1 students per teacher).”
South Kingstown is even worse, with a student to teacher ratio of 9 to 1. Rhode Island has definitively proven that a low student/teacher ratio does not improve student achievement.

OldTimeLefty
12 years ago

Monique,
I printed your quote and left it on the kitchen table and asked my wife to comment. She teaches at a South County elementary school and had gone to bed for the night at 10:00 after finishing a 36 page paper that she had to prepare as part of her continuous education as a teacher. Her work day starts at 8:45 A.M., but she usually arrives at school at 7:15 and I knew that she would be gone before I had arisen for the day. This is what I found at the breakfast table in the morning:
“I have 23 students in my class – that’s probably about average. The Kindergartens are quite small – 16 or 17 – per class. The 5th grades are 25. Our limit is 26 per class.
When teachers are counted, all teachers are counted: reading teachers, speech pathologists, literacy and math coaches, occupational therapists, special educators, school social workers and nurses- the aforementioned group sees students singly or in small numbers. Additionally, music, physical ed, art and librarian teachers teach their specialties to each class – all are certified by the state.
So, a special ed teacher who has severe/profound learning disabled students may have only 3 or 4 students. A speech pathologist sees one child or a small group at a time. I deal with 23 students daily, but if you add all teachers and all students and divide you get the average stated.”

My personal observation is that my wife, the pampered teacher, leaves home by 7:00 A.M. and returns home no earlier that 5:00 or usually 6:00 every workday. I’ll do the math for you that’s 10 or 11 hours per day, or 55 to 60 hours per week, not counting weekend prep time.
Your comments???
OldTimeLefty

OldTimeLefty
12 years ago

Please excuse typo and amend math to 50-55 hours per week.
OTL

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Hmmm. I’ll comment with reference to my job as a non-union carpenter and a typical day without overtime (i.e., paid for 8 hours):
7:00 a.m. – Leave house
7:20 a.m. – Stop at workshop: pick up tools, look for materials, go over things with boss
7:35 a.m. – Leave shop
7:50 a.m. – Arrive at jobsite, often having fielded telephone calls on the way
10:00 a.m. – Break
10:15 a.m. – Back to work
12:00 p.m. – Lunch
12:30 p.m. – Back to work
4:00 p.m. – Leave job site
5:00 p.m. – Arrive home
So, that’s a 10 hour day, although most private sector workers would only count it as 8. What’s your wife’s typical day look like? What’s her commute? What does she do for that hour-and-a-half before her official workday? How much time in the lounge? How much time going for coffee and reading the paper? How long’s her lunch? How much time for preparation? What does she do for those hours after class?
I don’t respond thus out of contention, but it seems to me that you’re likely piling time onto her schedule that most people wouldn’t consider to be applicable to the workday.

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Justin,
You misinformed fool. Don’t you know that ONLY teachers take work home, work weekends, etc.?
That being said, if “Old Time Lefty’s” wife truly works as he suggests, then that is great. Wouldn’t it be nice if she signed up for a system in which she would be rewarded for her hard work, as opposed to receiving the SAME pay as the teacher that puts in EXACTLY 6.75 hours?
And please DON’T tell us ALL teachers work hard.
More to the point, however, is if they work such long hours, why do they insist on defining their day as 6.75 hours in the Contract?
In terms of Students-per-teacher, stop rationalizing the numbers. They are what they are, which is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than other states (such as Hawaii).

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

George Elbow, If you really read the States 2007 SAT ranking you would see the RI was ranked 39 and not 40 as you stated and Hawaii placed 48th. Also Rhode Island student testing and scores placed RI in 21st place nationally taking the 2007 American College Testing or ACT tests. Hawaii students placed 9th nationally. Two different high school tests with two different national ranking results. With the Federal No Child Left Behind Law Hawaii Department of Education changed all statewide curriculums to “backloaded” standards based approach. To quote Hawaii State Department of Education officials defending their “stair-step” approach saying; “it was designed to allow students time to get used to standards-based curriculum and testing procedures.” RI Department of Education has also design standards and testing methodology however it was apparent those standards were not reaching the classroom nor were the new mathematical subject matter as reflected in this last NECAP state-wide testing resulting in very poor student test scores. But everyone started blaming the teachers for low student scores till it was found otherwise just like your are basing you attacks and assumptions, one SAT score, teacher to student ratio, cost per student and teacher salary that all teachers and schools in RI are failing to properly educate students because the union hacks are preventing State of RI Department of Education and State Board of Regents from doing their jobs directing the education of teachers at the various colleges in RI and the cities and towns school department systems, management and individual teachers. You can spend a million dollars for each teacher salary and a million dollars per each child but if the child does not want to learn he/she will not. No two children learn alike nor does one test fit all children. Federal No Child Left… Read more »

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken,
I know it’s hard when your on an island paradise, but try to focus and put aside the Union talking points:
Count up from the bottom of the SAT rankings …RI is #40.
I said RI Firefighters are the highest paid on a “per capita” basis …not a gross basis. Per-capita basis goes to the state’s ability to pay, which guys like you and Pauly “No Show” Doughty could care less about.
In fact, if you look at the NEA report I referred you to, they even have a table in there showing “public safety” on a per-capita basis, with RI near the top.
You conveniantly did not address teacher pay. RI is in the Top 10, with crappy results no matter how you measure.
You also ignore the FACT that RI has far more teachers per student than Hawaii.
The point is, as you yourself admitted, doubling teacher salaries won’t improve performance. So why are we falling all over ourselves to have some of the highest paid teachers in the nation?
And oh by the way, RI teacher pay as a percentage of the Median House-hold Income of Rhode Islanders is far in excess of Hawaiis.
But you have already shown us that no matter how many FACTS we present to you, you continue to drink the Union Kool-Aid and parrot their tired spin.
I truly find it hard to believe that you EVER worked and competed in the Private Sector.
Someday you’ll explain to us why Union-folk are so afraid to let the free market determine their worth.

OldTimeLefty
12 years ago

Justin,
You totally missed the point of my thread which is that the 9 to 1 ratio cited by Monique does not reflect the reality of the classroom. I’m waiting to hear you address the ill construed ratio and the implications behind it. Your comments were addressed to the aside, sort of like looking at flowers and complaining that all of the stems are green. You missed the point completely.
For what it’s worth, my wife is the hardest working person that I ever met. She is never frivolous and extremely conscientious about her job and its responsibilities. She arrives at school by 7:30, the school day begins at 8:45. I’m fairly sure that while she’s civil with her coworkers, her early arrival puts her in her classroom, not in the lounge.
Incidentally, she has a cup of coffee before leaving for work, and has no more for the rest of the day. She frequently forgoes lunch for work. But get back to the point. What about that misleading 9 to 1 ratio?
George,
You are so blindly prejudiced as to unworthy of comment.
Justin,
Address the point.
OldTimeLefty

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

George Elbow, You can not compare NEA Hawaii teachers, pay, cost per student, class sizes and students to NEA RI teachers, pay, cost per student, class sizes and students. Different states and cultures. States of Hawaii Department of Education and Board of Regents have stricter educational standards and requirements than RI. That is why 2007 National Council on Teacher Quality gave the State of RI Department of Education and Board of Regents a failing mark and “Languishing” title. MA and NJ were the only two states that received a “Weak but Ahead of the Class” rating which was sort of an excellent rating. 1 Hawaii teachers teach the full 12 month year. 2 Students when not attending regular school attend summer school and educational academies. Parent are more involved with education and pay for lunches, school uniforms, school bus transportation to/from school, drive children to school or have children take public mass transportation. Parents also go into schools to do maintenance, paint class rooms, help teachers and do landscaping. School and teachers are community pride. 3 Hawaii teachers must enroll in Hawaiian standards classes and pass standards test within first 3 years. 4 Hawaii teacher license and certificate is only good for 5 years. 5 Hawaii teachers must recertify every 5 years to standards. 6 Hawaii as a state has two official languages (Hawaiian and English) which both are taught, printed in newspapers and spoken daily on radio and TV. There are over 39 other languages spoken in Hawaiian households according to US Census. 7 A husband and wife both working as 1-3 year Hawaii teachers will not have a combined income to qualify for an average priced house mortgage. 8 Hawaii looses approximately 1,500 teachers a year mostly due to cost of living and housing. OldTimeLefty, I agree with… Read more »

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken,
You rattle off a bunch of “In Hawaii, teachers must”.
And you also tell us how good the results are, including TAX REBATES.
You make my point. In RI, such success in impossible because of the Unions. In RI, it is “the Taxpayer MUST…”.

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

One more thing Ken,
You crack me up. You are the one that started the whole discussion by trying to compare Hawaii to RI.
Then when I give you facts and data, you do a typical Union rant about how the states, facts, data, etc. are NOT comparable.
Like a Union hack, you want everything both ways.
You want job security, you want no accountability, you want top pay, you want respect, you want entitlements…

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Ken, welcome. You make valid points about Hawaii, since I know people who’ve made the flight and come back once the bills came due.
The best thing you can do with Mr. Elbow’s bile, of which I’m also a proud recipient, is laugh at it.

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