Thursday, March 22, 2012
A Pennsylvania union leader has come under fire after threatening legal action against the city of Allentown for allowing a Boy Scout to voluntarily clear a walking path in a local park.
Nick Balzano, president of the Service Employees International Union's Allentown chapter, said last week that the union might file a grievance against the city for allowing 17-year-old Kevin Anderson to clear the hiking trail, instead of paying some of the 39 recently laid-off SEIU members to do the work.
Perhaps the most notorious example happened in 2002, when two Brooklyn school janitors demanded to be paid time-and-a-half—$37 an hour—for two weekends when community members worked on school landscaping as a memorial in honor of a second-grade boy who had recently died.
The janitors did not even participate in the work. The grieving community members had violated their labor contract.
The unions argue some types of volunteerism violate the bargaining agreement that prohibits schools from giving district work to anyone but employees. But by this logic, the very spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism violates union rules.
In Culver City, Calif., a local union wants to force unionization of — get this — parent volunteers at the local public schools. At several schools in the city, parents have banded together to form non-profit booster clubs to fundraise for and hire part-time teacher’s helpers, who also mostly come from the ranks of the parents themselves.
The local union — the Culver City Association of Classified Employees — is not OK with that kind of initiative. The union wants the parents to continue to fundraise, but to send the funds directly to the school district so the district can then hire union employees to fill the part-time positions. As the union’s scheme makes clear, the school district presently doesn’t have the money to hire anyone to fill the roles parents have voluntarily filled. The parent volunteers aren’t stealing existing jobs from union employees.
The union has taken its request to the labor-friendly Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), a “quasi-judicial administrative agency that is charged with upholding and administering collective bargaining statutes that cover employees working in California schools.”
If the union has its way, parents will have to raise even more funds to cover the additional costs of union dues, administrative overhead and higher union wages — but they’ll have no say over hiring, control, supervision or decision-making. What’s to incentivize the fundraising in that scenario? As likely as not, parents will just stop putting forth the effort to raise funds in the first place — and students will lose the benefit of the added help in the classroom.
I have never been a member of a union. It seems to me that unions were at one time were very useful organizations, they banded together to insure safe working conditions and to get a livable wage, but now the majority of union members (percentage wise) are in the public sector. In the private sector, unions and management each represent different viewpoints; in the public sector the management depends on the union for support, this leads to a very bad situation where the public pays for the promises of the politicians to the unions so the pols can get reelected.
Volunteer work by parents helps the schools and the parents & kids!
--Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (37.0 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.9 percent). (See table 3.)
--Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 36.8 percent, while the lowest rate occurred in sales and related occupations (3.0 percent). (See table 3.)
--Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.1 percent) and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)