Article: Wisconsin tries to reform unions State, National, International, posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm
The article states:
""The proposal marks a dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which passed a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees.
In addition to eliminating collective bargaining rights, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage — increases Walker calls "modest" compared with those in the private sector."
Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 8:56 am
I find this utterly fascinating that the public sector employee unions are quite possibly facing their swan song even in the era of Obama. People, we are possibly witnessing the final days of an entitlement era for the unions and he beginning of accountability and fiscal responsibility for all public sector employees.
...and it's starting in Wisconsin but coming to a state near you. Whodathunk?
Posted by inconvenient truth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 9:12 am
What I think is fastinating is that in Wisconsin they are only trying to get the teachers to pay a portion of of their retirement and not take a reduction in pay and they are protesting in the street and have imagaes of the Governor as Hitler. I wonder what people would say if Obama was being compared to Hitler or being hung in efigy like they did Bush years ago. I was listening to Obama complain about the undercutting of the union in Wisconsin and reminded me of when he weighed in the on police officer and the friend os his in an altercation. Very unpresidential but at the same time very sad because it is now more obvious that ever that he is truly just an empty suit and incompetent.
Posted by inconvenient truth, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 9:15 am
by the way, the speaker in Wisconsin is sending the state troopers to get the democratic leader out of his house and down to the assembly house to vote. What a coward and that will be hard to explain when running for reelection.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:26 am
Why are the police and firemen sacrosanct but teachers and other civil servants fair game? What message does that send? Teachers can't go to their boss and ask for a raise or seek promotion within their field unless they go away from what drew them to the job, working with students individually in the academic setting. If a teacher wants a promotion, then he or she must leave the classroom and go to the front office.
And if anyone responds with misinformation about Step and Column, let me preemptively state the following:
1) All California school districts have step and column. It isn't going away.
2) All school districts have step and column to encourage teachers to stay in the field. Moving over on a column costs teachers time and money as each column is based on graduate level courses, courses that encourage professional development. One needs 15 graduate level units to move over a column. If it costs about $200 a unit, that means it costs a teacher $3000 to move over a column.
3) Many corporations have step levels for their employees. Levels such as engineer 1, engineer 2, level 1 manager, etc.
If being a civil servant is so great, why is there no rush for everyone to leave the private sector? If teachers are paid so well, either here or in Wisconsin, then why aren't more people trying to become teachers?
Posted by Julia, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:30 am
I salute Wisconsin for moving forward in a very positive direction. I hope "We The People" of this great Country put pressure on all the State Government, especially California to follow in the foot steps of the great State of Wisconsin.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:45 am
To me, there are two issues that keep getting mixed together. First, teachers are professionals that deserve fair pay comensurate for their education and skills. The Step and Column approach worked well for many years and its not this evil pay form ruining the country, but reform may be necessary (by the way, if you change districts usually the new district will only give you 7 years experience in their salary placement - so it encourages teachers to stay). The second issue is the issue of teacher performance (and consequent firing if poor). People keep saying that teacher X sucks, so the step and column system is a failure. This is ridiculous and I can give you just as many examples of really bad employees in the private sector being paid the same or more than really good employees. Contrary to public opinion it is possible to fire teachers, you just need evidence that they are not doing their job. That is the job of the administration and should not put the blame on all teachers that a few don't do their jobs well.
Are there problems with our schools? Of course. Are there a few bad apples amongst teachers? Sure. Are we as a society willing to do what it takes to make major reform in education? No. We are using the same education model we used 100 years ago.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:49 am
"why aren't more people trying to become teachers?" - especially HS math and science teachers. Even today schools grab people just starting their credentialing program to teach science and math because there is a shortage. Its hard to get and keep the best when there is no one to choose from.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:01 am
""why aren't more people trying to become teachers?" - especially HS math and science teachers. Even today schools grab people just starting their credentialing program to teach science and math because there is a shortage. Its hard to get and keep the best when there is no one to choose from."
Are they looking for teachers here? I met an experienced teacher at a party recently who said that there are not any jobs. And anyhow, all the new ones are being laid off, so what's the incentive? The unions don't look after their new members.
Posted by joan, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:14 am
We need to do the samething here in California, like the private sector they should pay more for their health insurance and their pensions. They also should not be able to add their sick days and vacation days to push up their amount of pensions.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:37 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Did anyone see that those teachers in Wisconsin who had that sick-out actually did it against contract? Their contract specifies that they can't use sick days for such actions, that they have to actually be sick. How ironic to go marching at the Wisconsin capital to protect the collective bargaining process that they flaunted.
WI school district: 'Sick' teachers face docked pay, other discipline
"Syke adds that such scrutiny is not the regular order of business, but is allowed under the school's union contract with its teachers. "It's not our normal policy," Syke says, "but it's in the collective bargaining agreement.""
Posted by woody, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm
Wisconsin? Meet China.
P.S. Take note: the posters here advocating the dismantling of collective bargaining rights are the same ones on other threads beseeching Pleasanton's guest workers (otherwise known as public sector employees) to be reasonable, smile, and be happy while being gouged by Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags who live in one of America's wealthies cities.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Cross-posting in hopes of hiding facts? I invite all readers to read for themselves on the other thread referenced by Woody where I praise the protection of Pleasanton's negotiation process from being tied up in citizen initiative by the action of PCEA pulling the tentative agreement and beseech everyone to not let emotional buttons be pushed by demagoguery.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm
Easy enough to see the democrats are between a rock and a hard place. Vote in favor of this plan, they lose teacher votes. Vote against, other voters will campaign heavily for your ouster.
More interesting is the unwillingness of teachers (and police and firefighters) to see their current agreements are unaffordable for those footing the bill. It's not unlike someone running off with your credit card and stiffing you with the charges AND you have no recourse to stop the spending and must continue to pay even if you can prove you're broke.
To Me Too, engineers or any other positions with magic numbers after them--even in education administration--have to be earned and applied for to achieve the next level; it is not a given just because you stayed or got more education credits.
Tenure must go--it is how we will attract and retain the best and brightest, and yes, even the youngest. If you are the best, you will go where you have the best overall environment, from salary to classroom to appreciation.
Step and column must go--for those who choose to get masters or doctoral degrees, there is reward in the personal accomplishment and the choice to apply for a better paying position; for those who choose to stay where they are and enjoy the jobs they have, if you are performing to expectation, great; if you exceed expectations, there should be a bonus each year you exceed the agreed upon goals.
Benefits--a mixed bag for Pleasanton. A decision was made years ago to up the impact to retirement calculations by rolling the benefits payment (about $10,000?) onto the salary schedule. Great for those who retired before the cost of benefits exceeded that amount; not such a great bargain now. If benefits are really costing $20,000 a year, this is reason enough to rethink those benefits; I don't believe anyone in the private sector believes this amount would be a reasonable cost.
Retirement--a reasonable expectation is for employees to contribute half the cost. Rethink STRS and PERS--maybe it should be optional. Perhaps moving into 403b plans, where the choices are in the individual's control is the smarter way to go.
Unions--let people opt out completely. I can't believe any school district or city is thinking of ways to pay less than someone is worth to the organization. Superintendents' jobs are dependent on the success of student outcomes, which means a strong community of parents and teachers. If you build that environment, the best will come and stay.
Income--taxpayers have to be willing to pay a competitive wage. It has to take into account the talent of the individual, the work year, goals, and a method for bonus pay. Work years have to take into account 180 days with students plus professional development plus a realistic understanding of hours spent beyond the classroom in grading and prep and other school activities. The latter varies at each grade level. If science and math teachers are a need and focus, then let's pay accordingly. I still believe there isn't a reason for some teachers to be earning more than a principal, for example.
The best and brightest in education need to have this conversation and create the change or accept that events like those in Wisconsin will eventually win the day.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm
"Are they looking for teachers here? I met an experienced teacher at a party recently who said that there are not any jobs. And anyhow, all the new ones are being laid off, so what's the incentive?"
They are usually looking, however, they can't really start looking/posting until almost the beginning of the school year. Surrounding districts also are usually have vacancies. However, if the size of freshman math classes rises there probably won't be any vacancies this year.
The incentive? Just read all the posts - there is no downside to being a teacher. Very high pay, massive benefits, easy work, short work days on the few days teachers work at all, etc.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm
"To Me Too, engineers or any other positions with magic numbers after them--even in education administration--have to be earned and applied for to achieve the next level; it is not a given just because you stayed or got more education credits."
Sorry, I didn't make that statement, it was the poster before me (Sam), but I have seen PLENTY of people get a promotion (from engineer I to II, etc) just because they have been around a company a long time.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm
Kathleen - you do make some good points. The Step and Column methodology may not work well in today's climate. The Denver model seems to be working, but I'm not sure it would fit for Pleasanton as a small district. Compensation has to be looked at from all aspects. Pleasanton should step forward and be a model for change. I truly believe our teachers would be willing to change if a reasonable model were presented. (I could be completely wrong though)
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm
While off topic, it was just occuring to me how odd it is that we require the people who cut our hair to be licensed, yet you need no proof of competency to be a politician - just votes. (and for appointed positions, you don't even need that)
Posted by radical, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm
Wisconsin teachers blatantly ignoring the rules of the contract they signed to go and protest for more power.
Central to the issue is the fact that the state must address a massive budget shortfall. The AP story pretty much ignores the fact that the legislature is engaging in a democratic process, and the reporter saves this bit until the end of the piece:
The changes would save the state $30 million by June 30 and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.
Oh, and another important tidbit which contradicts the opening of the story "cutting the pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights of public workers"
Unions could still represent workers, but they could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized. Local police, firefighters and state troopers would retain their collective bargaining rights.
The head of the union, Marty Beil, in offering concessions, said in part "we will not be denied our God-given right to join a real union"
Which document is he reading? I don't know which part of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness includes union organizing?
President Obama in a local interview used the term "an assault on unions" and his campaign organization is assisting with union efforts in the state
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Let's say Pleasanton was to wipe the slate clean and start over with public employee compensation. What would your ideal compensation plan look like? (and "salary tied to performance and accountability" is not a compensation plan)
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm
It looks like Ohio is doing something similar to reform unions:
"Protests have also erupted in Columbus, Ohio as a bill proposing to eliminate collective bargaining for state workers and public university employees makes its way through the state legislature."
"Additionally, the Ohio bill would make all public workers pay at least 20% of their health insurance premiums and would eliminate tenure as a consideration when making layoffs. And it would require pay be based on merit for most workers."
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm
Me Too, my thoughts . . .
I have several thoughts about compensation, so this is random in that I'm just going to suggest as I write them down in no particular order
Starting teacher pay needs to be higher. Hard to identify a number if we are talking beyond Pleasanton--should a teacher in LA or other tough districts make more than here, for example. For Pleasanton, maybe you start $5,000 higher than today (or more depending on what the market will bear and still attract the best). It's an opportunity to get the best from the outset, and we can afford to be choosy.
Rather than step and column, there should be a bonus pool big enough to assume all teachers could qualify. Teachers could qualify every year.
There could be a master level for teachers for time they spend coaching other teachers. At the elementary level, I think that means no classroom for a year or more, at the desire of the teacher (and, obviously, an audience that thinks it is helpful). For middle and high schools, that could mean fewer classes as opposed to none. It has to make sense for the students and site. This doesn't mean, necessarily, a teacher with higher degrees, but they do have to have a demonstrated passion for the learning environment.
There could be Teacher 1, 2, 3 Levels awarded for demonstrated skills. There would have to be more thought about maintaining those skills and not getting to a level and resting on your laurels. For example, in the public sector if you achieve x and then underperform, you're gone.
I'd have to think more about raises for performance. So if you perform well at level one and get a 1% raise, does that go on forever, or do you get shown the door if you don't grow to Level 2?
I'll think about this some more, but surely there's enough here to discuss further.
Posted by Pete, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm
Remember...we are starting from scratch.
"Starting teacher pay needs to be higher" Agreed...getting the best entails, what quality traits? Specialized, collaborating,knowledge gained... master teachers coaching other teachers in the same way existing teachers draw the individual strengths from children today?
"Hard to identify a number if we are talking beyond Pleasanton" Agreed...we don't have too. If the Community of Pleasanton provides these teachers the tools to promote their own strengths in educating our children, it will be their choice to teach here and if their future needs, somehow, are not met... they leave for greener pastures...with an understanding that their contribution was appreciated. If they were to want to come back, they could apply.
An example of a special incentive performance grant, could be in place for involving peer groups who take an interest in underacheiving/special needs students. Half would go to the teacher, a quarter to future student scholarships and a quarter to school to enhance technology for success.
"I'd have to think more about raises for performance? We are required to have 3% of budget in reserve? I'm not sure that is right. Place another 3%????? through parcel tax maybe, and have teachers/parents and Community, in a controlled environment to give out yearly bonuses. Oh well... I know, too complicated.
Posted by woody, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2011 at 7:12 am
First, make sure our guest workers (public employees) know what their place is. Disparity of wealth in U.S. is such that 93% of wealth belongs to top 20% of population; and Pleasanton has one of the highest income levels in the U.S. Why? Because we deserve it. Anything that threatens to change this fundamental fact must be corrected. Those are the rules of the game.
Second, Pleasanton's guest workers must be made to realize that it is we, the citizens of Pleasanton, who are their boss. We will not stand for any arrangement that threatens to disrupt a condition where the bottom 80% of the population gets to realize 7% of society's wealth.
Third, they must recognize that for the past eight years the citizens of Pleasanton have been complacent. We deferred to the great and powerful George W. Bush. But after he who shall not be named came into office (hint: he's black, heh-heh) we came to our senses.
Fourth, as our employees, your labor belongs to us. You belong to us. Now, we have determined that your salaries and pensions have been challenging the 20%/93% ratio. Hence, you must be put in your place. You may decide with your reduced paycheck to fill up your cars and grocery shop in other communities as a way of showing your displeasure with us. But know this, we don't care. Truth be told, we rather enjoy the prospect of an increasingly third-world type of existence. The more for us, the better. If our community becomes too depressed, we'll simply take our wealth and move elsewhere.
Fifth, know this. These are facts. We cannot and will not partake of any arrangement with our guest workers that changes our economic advantage over you and the other 80% of the population (suckers) who live in this great country. This is fairness. We deserve this. Do not think you can show up at board and community meetings and act all huffy like you exist on a par with us. We will put you in your place.
To conclude: guest workers of Pleasanton, otherwise referred to as public sector employees. Know your place. Learn to live with it.
Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2011 at 11:25 am
There seem to be a few posters adhering to Alinsky's fifth rule. Here's an excerpt Web Link . The irony is it just brings more attention to their lack of intelligent, rational and mature thinking to help our school district and our city be the best they can be.
Posted by engineer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm
"To Me Too, engineers or any other positions with magic numbers after them--even in education administration--have to be earned and applied for to achieve the next level; it is not a given just because you stayed or got more education credits."
That hasn't been true for several companies I've worked for. Older workers make more money for being more senior. Increases and bonuses were given just for completing education. It isn't such a bad policy. Some companies see it as a social contract. Younger workers put in their time working longer hours for lower wages in exchange for less work and higher wages for older workers. It is a system that works and as we raise barriers to foreign competition, increase regulation, strengthen our unions, and raise taxes on the wealthy back to where they were 30 years ago, society at large will benefit. Wealth, over the last 30 years has increasingly been concentrated with the wealthy and the middle class has been destroyed. Free markets are the problem and government is the solution. Simple as that.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm
engineer, I don't see how you get from the first half of your paragraph the other half. And I think that most often there is more to promotion than just longevity and education. There isn't anything in the last half of your paragraph I can agree with.
Posted by woody, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm
With a name like that, and given the views you've been expressing along with it, I'm going to surmise that you'd probably feel more comfortable in S. Africa prior to the abolition of aparthied. Keep those lines of economic demarcation bold and clear so as to ensure guest workers don't get any of that 93% of the wealth that lies behind their reach.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 21, 2011 at 9:49 am
engineer, You didn't cite the quotation, so I don't know who's data is used to make that summary.
I already said beginning teachers should make more and that proven teachers should be able to earn more than a principal. I'm not against higher wages where it has been earned and is sustainable--in the private sector, I vote with my dollars to support it or not; as a taxpayer I vote at the booth.
This is oversimplification, but if one works hard to earn a living (be that first through education and a career or just in a career or working more than one job or people are willing to make your movie a blockbuster or an owner gives you a multi-million dollar contract to play a sport), I don't believe that person should be the answer to the rising cost of government.
The highest wage earners already pay the lion's share of taxes (surely this has been shown out here before). Web Link Not surprisingly, the wealthy also donate the most. Web Link
woody, the name is, of course, one I took in marriage and is Swiss. I happen to be from a large, blue collar-union household, Democratic, mid-western family. So if there is a line you wish to cross, in addition to the provocative things you post, then, by all means, by my guest.
Posted by engineer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm
"The highest wage earners already pay the lion's share of taxes (surely this has been shown out here before). Web Link Not surprisingly, the wealthy also donate the most. Web Link"
Of course poor people can't pay much in taxes because they don't have any money to start with. I'm not at all persuaded by articles like these. Imagine a tax system where the upper five percent of earners pays a flat $1 per year and everyone else pays nothing. You could still make that claim that "The highest wage earners already pay the lion's share of taxes". The trouble is, that would not be enough in taxes for any kind of government to function. The same could be said regarding philanthropy. Of course poor people aren't giving money to themselves. They don't have it.
What surprises me is how so many people fall for this business about low taxes and light regulation leading to greater prosperity for us all. It hasn't worked. Most of us are far poorer than we were ten years ago. Our retirement accounts, if we have them at all, are worth less. Our homes are worth less. Our wages haven't increased but stuff costs more. Compare that to the average investment banker on Wall Street trading credit default swaps, and his wages and wealth have increased by about an order of magnitude in that time. And for what? Has he done our society any good? How has placing side bets on failing credit benefited anyone but derivatives traders?
The only way we can stop these people is to tax and regulate them. But it goes a lot farther than that. I think we seriously need to look at what has happened to our relationship with our employers, our customers, and our foreign competitors across all companies large and small. We need to get back to treating people humanely and fairly. Strong unions, higher taxes, and bigger government will all be necessary to get us there.
Posted by engineer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm
As to the citation, there are so many articles that come up when you google wealth distribution in America that bear out the increased concentration of wealth that I hardly thought it was necessary. Here's an article that addresses it that I just happened to be looking at, but there are so many others. I didn't think it was a matter of controversy.
Posted by SteveP, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2011 at 11:02 am SteveP is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Class envy is alive and being promoted by the likes of woody and others on the left. Their theory is that since tey can't be success, they want to drag everyone else down to their level. Anything less wouldn't be 'fair' and you all know how those bleeding heart liberals love 'fairness'. It's sure a lot easier than working hard for a living and trying be successful.
Posted by engineer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm
"It's sure a lot easier than working hard for a living and trying be successful."
If only derivatives traders would actually "working hard for a living" and do something useful, rather than just have middle class taxpayers bail them out, our economy wouldn't be in such horrible shape.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm
It looks like union reform is going to happen, even in California:
"(CNN) -- The fight over public union benefits and collective bargaining is spreading across the United States. Here is a state-by-state breakdown:"
Lawmakers introduced a bill that would do away with collective bargaining of pension benefits for the state's public employees. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown had imposed a statewide hiring freeze across all government agencies."