GOP Goes After Teacher Unions

From CNN:

As angry teachers in the Midwest shut down more than a dozen school districts in protest Thursday, Republican officials across the nation have made teachers’ unions “public enemy No. 1” in a battle to trim budgets and rewrite the rules on how unions and states work together.

In Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and New Jersey, governors are taking on the unions — who they see as guilty of demanding excessive benefits and causing out-of-control waste — in their quest to cut spending and regain control over the educational system.

Some feel overly generous union contracts are busting state budgets, and many are using the current fiscal crisis to do something about it.

“I’m attacking the leadership of the union because they’re greedy, and they’re selfish and they’re self-interested,” New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie told a conservative conference Wednesday.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a Republican, is pushing a plan to gut almost all union rights for teachers. He wants to monitor how much money they earn and make them pay a greater share of pension and health care costs, all while limiting their ability to bargain collectively.

I’m playing catchup with what’s going on in Wisconsin right now but Talking Points Memo has a good roundup of news and links.


  1. I interviewed for many jobs last year – and the highest-paying was in Bergen County New Jersey (one of the richest counties in the country and also one of the most expensive). The pay? $48,000 a year.

    I also interviewd for jobs that paid less than $30,000 a year.

    Yep, teachers. Really breaking the bank.

  2. here in wisconsin, the average teacher in rakes in almost 50k, with a beginning salary a little under 30k. my first problem with this whole “teachers are destroying our budgets” issue that that when they are making so little, they need the state to pay for benefits; because at 30k, there is NO way you can buy your own health coverage, pay your bills, pay off student loans and support your family. the second issue is that when you pay at the bottom of the barrel, you get the bottom of the barrel.

    also, the wisconsin union-busting moves of Scott Walker don’t end with teachers- no, all state union employees (from bus drivers janitors to firefighters) are getting screwed. we aren’t talking about negotiating a scrooge-like deal with the unions, we’re talking about removing collective bargaining rights altogether.

    there is no solution to any problem that involves removing the rights of any citizen.

    p.s. fuck you, scott walker.

  3. Republicans–keep on fightin’ the good fight.

    Then again, by breaking the education system such that there are no incentives for capable people to become teachers, the intelligence level of the public goes down, and then…poof! More tea partiers. Sounds like a smarter plan than I thought.

  4. Cutting teacher’s salaries, worsening working conditions, increasing interest payments for grad student loans, &etc. &etc.

    It’s like the corporate barons want to create an uneducated mass who are unable to discern the lies and BS of the corporate media.

    Oh wait…

  5. NYC – they’re making the schools spend the rest of their yearly budget or else they wont carry it over to next year, but they’re still saying there’s no money. Meanwhile Albany is strong-arming the Mayor into possibly laying off thousands of teachers in the city to make-up for the budget deficit. He’s instigating a performance-based judgement over seniority which is really pissing people off who are on the brink of tenure.

  6. My students are on break for a week as of today, any other teachers here know the stress of dealing with kids a week before a break, so this may be somewhat of a rant.
    What a bunch of dicks. Seriously. Where the hell do people get this idea that teachers make a fortune and have benefits that are unfair compared to others? I’m a New York State high school teacher, and when I started my job a few years ago my salary was 33K. That’s it. 33K. That much a year to help feed my child, pay off the master’s degree I am required to have to teach in this state, my loans from my bachelors degrees, taxes, rent, utilities, etc. Yeah, I’m real fucking rich, I clearly would have no problem paying for my health insurance and retirement, because I make so much, I don’t even know what to do with all the money. My wife, also a teacher, makes marginally better than I do at a different district, and we’re already fearing for our jobs in the next few years.

    You know what? Break up our unions, get rid of the teachers that are clearly only there to become rich off an “easy” job. Let the country go uneducated for a few years and watch what happens, since that seems to be what they want. Obama wants better math and science? As an earth science and chemistry teacher I totally agree. But that won’t come about if you keep abusing people that become teachers because they want to help others to learn life skills. Particularly when teachers are held accountable for shitty students that couldn’t learn how to masturbate, and have to pass them so that the school doesn’t lose money through Obama’s brilliant and well-educated predecessor’s No Child Left Behind act.

    Thanks Wisconsin and all those that follow suit, you’re a bunch of dicks.

  7. What Nick said. I started teaching in my mid-forties, so I have a pretty small pension. And last year my health costs (with Medicare and dental insurance) were 42% of my GROSS income.

  8. At a time when we (the US) need to be throwing massive efforts and money into education, research and development, these clowns want to shut it down because it’s too expensive?

    Or it because our corporate-ocracy doesn’t like it when employees have any power at all over their profession, benefits and income?

    I’m thinking more people need to read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” so they’ll know where we’re headed.

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