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Calstrs/teachers union opposes pension spiking bill
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by Be a part of the solution, Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Aug 4, 2011
Teachers want changes in bill that limits public employee pensions
"The California Teachers Association and California State Teachers' Retirement System are opposing a bill that would limit pension "spiking," the practice of boosting salaries right before retirement to increase pension payouts.
SB 27, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, applies to the California Public Employees' Retirement System and CalSTRS. The law would trigger an audit if a public employee's salary increases 25 percent or more during the final five years on the job. It also would put restrictions on non-salary compensation that increases pension payments, such as life insurance, car allowances, housing, unused vacation and sick pay..."
No surprise here. The teachers pension system, CalSTRS, is severly underfunded and the teachers union is busy protecting pension spiking. Why? Because, just like CalPERS, they expect the taxpayers to cover ALL funding shortfalls that are caused by bad policy and or pension spiking abuses by their own members.
What they should be worried about is how they can afford to send out pension checks, for the next 30 years, when the will be out of money. If you think the teachers unions are unreasonable now, just wait until the size of the checks shrinks... it is happening in RI...or they try to double or triple the cost to the tax payer.
At a time when we need to control costs, the teachers unions are heading in the opposite direction.
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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm
Janna, thank you for your comments. I agree with what you say to John. He and others seem indefatigably hitched to the idea that private sector models, free of union influence, are our salvation. They espouse this view without having any apparent historical knowledge of why unions were a logical and much-needed response to a tendency of greedy capitalist owners to beat individual workers into pulp while using their labor as basis for profit. And I think you're right to suggest that greed and capital are inextricably intertwined. Greed, indeed, seems to be at the base of the very logic of capital.
Without unions, America couldn't have become the relatively prosperous and relatively stable society that it is. The greedy capitalists and capitalist wannabe's, however, never tire of attempting to break unions, as a strong, unionized labor force is a threat to their wealth and the privilege it can buy. What they'd prefer is something along the lines of what occurs only a hundred feet or so on the other side of the US/Mexico border. American owned and/or subsidized maquilladoras employ hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers to the tune of less than a buck an hour. Last I looked (a couple years ago) Schick, to name but one, had a maquilladora plant a hundred feet into Mexico where workers are paid approx. 67 cents per hour. One hundred feet or so on the US side, the same company was paying its workers, doing the same work as their fellow workers in Mexico, over 18 dollars per hour, along with benefits. The difference isn't simply cents v. dollars as the right-wing bean counters might want to offer; it is the difference between a unionized labor force and one that isn't.
I think the very idea of a unionized work force is predicated on the importance of the individual. No, not the individual who is reduced to a worker/consumer in tired economic models, but an individual who has the right to earn a decent living wage (pensions being a part of a living wage), in safe and healthy work conditions, with dignity and respect. We have learned, through history, that such rights are not respected but in fact are abused by owners as they are seen as cutting into profits. Hence the importance of unions in advancing and protecting these rights.
We now have public sector unions, formed in order to advance and protect the rights of teachers, nurses, doctors, fire fighters.... But the unions are currently under siege; and many want either to eliminate them or strip them of their effectiveness as defenders of those they represent. Thankfully, there are many of us who recognize the threat these wrongheaded efforts pose to individual rights as well as those who are served by public sector workers. When someone wants to strip away someone else's job protections and rights -- for example, the right to teach without fear of the galloping Steves and Arnolds -- the burden is for that person to make a strong case....
I pointed out that, as per usual, Kath's case is weak. She offers no view of what a good or just society might look like, but only offers up numbers, accounting formulae, and comical videos. Pressed to present a more defensible set of validity claims, she chafes and chides that person for not having watched the cartoonish video she offered up as some pathetic demonstration of, um, 'freedom'; pressed further, she claims simply that validity claims are like ice cream flavors, and shows a remarkable but consistent unwillingness to argue how one is better than another; pressed even further, she shrinks back into her actuarian-accountant's shell where she and other numbers fetishists can all stroke themselves in excitement, albeit without coming to grips with what the numbers mean in terms of, say, what it means to live in a just society.
Stacey jumps in, but it soon becomes apparent that once she steps away from finding internet sources, she doesn't have much to offer beyond cries of petulance and churlishness while advancing shadowy conspiracy theories about authors who share views dissimilar to her own.
I think this discussion board has revealed a couple of things. One, once pushed, the right-wingers who want teachers to be at the mercy of their own fetishistic machinations fold their tents pretty quickly. And two, why? Because they are poorly read and aren't all that far removed from the galloping Steves and Arnolds with whom they align themselves.
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Posted by Beyond Commodity Fetishism
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm
Well, I stand corrected on one of my two claims. The right-wingers aren't about to fold their tents. The irony is rather delicious. The unstable one seems to be vying for the Joseph McCarthy tiara. She launches a site that fosters censorship on the PW sites; collects shadow files on articulate leftists who voice claims opposed to her own; on the flimsiest evidence claims the various posters are one and the same person, and that that Phantom Agitator doesn't argue properly, that he/she is uncivil, that he/she is not practical, that he/she does not argue like she does, that he/she doesn't post using his/her first name like she does. The list goes on, and it really is a riot. Then along comes her well-trained compadre turned out on his leash, who shouts out with much seriousness that all liberals are psychological ill. Like I say. Delicious.
Freedom Fighter Kath wants to deconstruct classrooms, to allow teachers to opt out of their union, to collaborate with peers, and to have a say in any teacher evaluation models. All this in the name of "freedom." Then she states, "Given these _freedoms_ [my emphasis], my guess is no one would need a union." Right. I agree, readers, her attempted deductive leap here is indeed a bit of a rib-tickler.
Kath fails to acknowledge that teachers who belong to unions do have considerable freedom (within reason) to organize their classrooms in ways that enhance pedagogical effectiveness, AND that much of this can be attributed to union protections against narrow minded administrators and/or administrators who are being driven by parent witch hunting groups. She fails to acknowledge that it is in fact union protections that afford teachers the opportunity to collaborate with peers (or not) as they so desire. She attests that union membership prohibits teachers from having a say in any evaluative models. What a laugher, that. Apparently she is unaware that whatever say teachers DO currently have is because of union support. So, somehow, on this up-is-down and down-is-up understanding of teachers and unions, this self-proclaimed, chest-thumping supporter of teacher "freedoms" thinks teachers should want to opt out of unions. What a gas!
But once past the smokey nonsense of her claims and their espoused link to 'freedom', we get to her pet agenda. Let's let teachers opt out of unions. Because teachers should be free. Yes, Kath, that's a real freedom issue. Onerous membership in a closed shop union. It's like, gee, why can't Derek Jeeter wear a yankee cap during games instead of the Davy Crocket coonskin hat he so desires to wear? Or maybe the free rider shouldn't be "forced" to contribute to the carpool they ride in. Or maybe people shouldn't have to pay taxes if they don't want to.
Freedom Fighter Kath, always willing to support the cause of union-oppressed teachers, says she wants them to be able to opt out of their union if they so desire. Then, as something of an afterthought, asks, "Why is membership mandatory?" A rather odd question to ask from someone who wants teachers to "freely" opt out. I'd have thought she who poses such a question might already have pondered it before concluding that opting out is such a pillar of teacher freedom.
Historically, unions have remained closed shop as a means of maintaining solidarity against oppositional forces that have sought to divide and conquer and capitalize upon the division. Without closed shop union membership -- hardly an onerous thing, and certainly not one that restricts any teacher's right to challenge union leadership or its policies -- not only would the union's solidarity be weakened, but even more importantly, it would be less able to combat the galloping Steves and the other unstable ones who desire so badly to impose their agendas upon teaching practices. The closed shop model helps guarantee that teachers can feel free to utilize the pedagogical methods they do without having to look over their shoulder at rabid parents with an agenda nipping at their ankles. Opting out of a union lends itself to teacher freedom? Please. The closed shop requirement of membership, and the protections of teacher's rights it guarantees, offers far more freedom to the member than does the "freedom" to not pay union dues.
Wow. Who would have expected that? That Kath's defense of teacher freedoms should boil down to teachers not having to pay union dues? I gotta tell ya, Kath, there are better ways to promote teacher freedom than that of weakening the membership (as well as -- perhaps especially, those who you want to opt out). You're barking up the wrong tree. Last time I looked, it wasn't teachers' unions that were insisting that Thomas Jefferson be removed from all American history texts; that creationism be taught alongside or instead of scientifically based theories of evolution; that Huck Finn's or Holden Caulfield's voice be snuffed out in classrooms and libraries. Sorry, Kath, but your feeble effort to weaken union power under the auspices of "freedom" is just that.