Bully – The Labor-Management Story…by Koch

June 8, 2012 at 7:58 AM Leave a comment

Boston, San Jose, and Wisconsin…axe taken to worker rights in ballot issues and legislative actions funded by big PACs. This trifecta has filled the void left by passive-aggressive education leadership. So, where’s the impetus for real management in schools?

This has been a tough week for workers. In Wisconsin, the governor, whose mission was the elimination of collective bargaining, has been vindicated in a failed recall election. In San Jose, a city has voted to take away pension benefits from government workers. And in Massachusetts, the mere threat of a ballot issue has driven the powerful Massachusetts Teachers Association to cede tenure and seniority rights in contract negotiations. The 1%, acting on their own interests, have filled a void left by passive-aggressive leadership in education to cripple labor negotiations across the nation. And we are supposed to believe this is about the children?

PAC money is a dysfunctional feature in a nation whose very being is predicated on democracy, balance of power, and market freedom. Within education, that lopsided force has become the Terminator for teachers – assuming the role of prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner for workers who have been presumed guilty and denied due process. And, it is not a coincidence that the PACs have targeted the one group of workers that cannot be outsourced out of existence.

Ironically, laws that seek to silence workers by nullifying the labor-management dialogue will undermine the vitality of leadership as well. A fair debate yields far better insight than can ever be achieved within a single point of view. While I have never been a good union worker, as a leader and an American, I must support the workers and argue that…

  1. There are two sides to every labor-management dispute.
  2. There is hidden agenda behind the smokescreen of every politically charged issue.
  3. The rights of the people must transcend both for any legal or contractual issue to be valid in the US.

Point 1: Seniority, tenure, and pensions are all terms of engagement that should be subject to labor-management negotiation.  A power struggle between the two is functional and needs a balanced solution, not an external blind-side punch.  Consider that…

  • Unions have always gained strength where management has been weak or abusive.
  • History needs to be undone with good-faith negotiation of the workers’ roles, evaluation criteria, career pathways, and incentive-based compensation.
  • Strong, fair leadership engages in regular employee assessment, mutual goal setting, and periodic review.

Instructional leadership and traditional role-modeling have not and cannot effectively take the place of a full repertoire of people-management skills. A power play to force compliance with a failed management strategy is a form of bullying which will perpetuate the problem. That is how we got where we are today. Let’s set aside the blunt instruments and work on developing a more robust model of leadership and motivation. It is far more clever to see and attend to individuals within an organization than to out-maneuver a mob with a sucker punch.

Point 2: The rights of America’s children…good cause, but not really the objective if you consider that…

  • The money behind the union-busting activities comes from advocates for private schools that tend to be segregated, elitist, and faith-based.
  • The advocates are saying, ‘where’s mine?’…asking why we keep focusing on other people’s children who happen to be poor, under-served educationally, and of ethnic minority…ignoring the fact that the role of government is to protect those who lack the resources to participate effectively in the free market. Apparently they like the achievement gap just fine.
  • The elimination of seniority, tenure, and pension benefits collectively is just a trade-off of rights for the young that are being taken away from the old. Real solutions protect both.

The real story is the 1% trying to eliminate entitlements that protect access to the middle-class while protecting unseen entitlements for the extremely wealthy.

Point 3: The American way is to protect the freedom of the young, the old, and the in-betweens of any culture.

Any action by a legislative body, a government agency, or a private entity must stand the test of legality and constitutionality. Accordingly…

  • We must provide free access to high-quality public education for all.
  • We must not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, color, creed, …
  • We must abide by laws protecting rights for employment, retirement security, and contracts. Federal laws supersede state and local rulings on these issues in many cases.

So far, we only have 1% solutions…The rest of us have limited resources today, but those resources will only shrink and our way of life deteriorate if we are satisfied with solutions crafted out of zero-sum concepts.


Entry filed under: Special Rants. Tags: , , .

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