Money and politics

If the Tea Party are truly concerned about the influence of money in politics, then the "work place freedom" that is needed, is the freedom from corporations buying politicians and elections. This graph from amply demonstrates how asymetric the situation is

Corporate political donations far outstrip any other kind, including labor organizations, and since the Supreme Courts Citizens United decision to allow even greater freedom for corporations to buy elections and politicians, that gap is growing significantly.

Republican lawmakers looking to attack working people again

On this day in 1886

350,000 workers staged a nationwide work stoppage to demand the adoption of a standard eight-hour workday. Forty thousand workers struck in Chicago, Illinois; ten thousand struck in New York; eleven thousand struck in Detroit, Michigan. As many as thirty-two thousand workers struck in Cincinnati, Ohio, although some of these workers had been out on strike for several months before May 1.

The purpose of the May Day Strike was to bring pressure on employers and state governments to create an eight-hour workday. During this period, workers commonly spent twelve or more hours of each day at work. Unions, especially the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada -- the predecessor of the American Federation of Labor, encouraged workers to strike on May 1, 1886, to demonstrate the need for an eight-hour day.

Today, Ohio Republican law makers want to go back to a time that predates 1886, by introducing yet more union busting legislation. State Rep. Ron Maag (R) and State Rep. Kristina Roegner (R) are introducing so called "right to work" bills. These bills (Maag's targets public sector workers, while Roegner's target private sectors workers) come less than 2 years after Ohioans rejected SB5, the previous anti-worker legislation aimed at reducing the ability of workers to negotiate safe and fair working conditions, benefits and pay.

Here's a copy of the letter we obtained announcing the introduction of the bill, and a request for legislators to add their names to it.

The introduction of these bills come suspiciously timed - just a day after Governor Kasich met with the tea party funders, the Koch Brothers - who are big proponents of "right to work" legislation and union busting in general.

Phones and electronic devices were banned from some panels, as Koch strategists detailed next year’s electoral battlegrounds and donors committed contributions to particular states or projects.

At least a half-dozen rising Republican stars were also in attendance. They included Dr. Ben Carson, a Baltimore neurosurgeon who has quickly developed a following among grass-roots conservatives, and several members of the Tea Party wing: Govs. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and John R. Kasich of Ohio, along with Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The Tea Party's efforts to push anti-worker legislation has been on-going in Ohio for more than 2 years. Their efforts to collect signatures to place anti-worker legislation on the ballot, by their own accounts has fallen way short

Mr. Littleton said it would be a “long shot” for the group to gather the roughly 380,000 signatures of registered voters needed by July 3, the deadline to qualify for the November ballot.

The effort is a long shot because it has no popular support. The We Are Ohio signature collection effort to repeal the last anti-worker legislation that the Tea Party supported, collected over 1.3 million signatures in just a few months. The current group of people supporting this anti-worker legislation are even more unsympathetic. For just how ugly and bigoted the Tea Party backers of "right to work" are, see here.

In Opposition to this anti-worker effort.

A number of people have come out quickly against this latest anti-worker effort. Ed FitzGerald, candidate for Governor

“I stood against these attacks on our everyday heroes and Ohio’s middle class when I voted against Governor Kasich’s Senate Bill 5,” he said. “As governor, I promise to stand up for the working families in Ohio, and stand behind the middle class that keeps our economy strong.”

David Pepper, candidate for Ohio Attorney General

"I oppose so-called 'right to work' because it hurts families and working people and destroys our middle class. This is a direct attack on our law enforcement officers who keep our communities safe. For these same reasons, I worked with the thousands of volunteers who fought back against Senate Bill 5, the unfair, unsafe attack on us all that voters rejected in 2011.

"But this is also a time when we should be asking all public officials – where do you stand on so-called 'right to work'. Working families and first responders deserve to know, are you with them or against them?"

Rep. Connie Pillich, rumored candidate for Ohio Treasurer

38 people who died on the job last year were remembered Monday at the Cincinnati region Workers Memorial, sponsored by the UAW and AFL-CIO Labor Council. Today, the Ohio GOP introduces legislation that could increase on-the-job deaths by 36%. The So-Called “Right to Work” bills could eliminate workplace safety measures fought for and obtained by labor unions. Dangerous.

Rep. Chris Redfern, Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party

“Here we go again. Apparently Governor Kasich has forgotten what happened the last time he and his Republican allies launched a broadside against the rights of Ohio workers. Ohio was paralyzed and our hard-earned economic recovery, which began a year before Kasich took office, stalled.

Just as SB 5 was soundly rejected by Ohio voters, we expect this unnecessary sideshow – which will do nothing to create more good-paying jobs – to fail, and we intend to hold Governor Kasich accountable for choosing to focus on distractions over Ohio’s middle class. If Kasich doesn’t want this attack on working families to move, he should say so immediately.”

Join the Future opposes these attacks on working people and we call upon our supporters to send a message to their legislators informing them that this legislation is wrong, unfair and unsafe.

Right To Work Is A Lie — It's No Rights At Work

More on "Right to work" being a lie.

Supporters of so-called “right to work” laws argue that they advocate for a cause whose noble aim is to advance personal liberty and promote economic growth. They wield buzz words like “freedom” and “choice” for their messaging. They opine that too many workers needlessly suffer because corporate America cannot free itself from the shackles of greedy labor unions. A non-critical eye may see a movement that champions freedom and offers hope. However, if you look just beneath the surface of the “right to work” cause, you will see a campaign that is built on distortions and predicated on lies and whose unstated purpose would undermine workers’ safety, economic security and well-being. The true goal of right to work is to put more money into the pockets of corporate shareholders. The consequence of these purposes, whether intended or unintended, is a diminished middle class.

right to work is wrong

Right to work (RTW) does not provide a financial benefit to workers. It hurts them – financially and physically. A viable labor movement is the best way to advance the wellbeing of the middle class. Here’s what the empirical research shows in terms of worker compensation and workplace safety:

  • The average worker in a RTW state earns about $1,500 less per year than a person working in a non-RTW state.
  • Unions raise worker pay by roughly 20 percent.
  • In Ohio, teachers working in non-union charter schools receive annual salaries that are about $16,000 less than those paid to traditional public school teachers. The gap is even larger when compared to what for-profit charter schools pay their teachers.
  • The rate of employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions is lower in RTW states.
  • Worker fatalities in the construction industry are 34 percent higher in RTW states.

Economic development is not enhanced by RTW legislation. In fact, the enactment of RTW laws almost certainly hinders growth and prosperity:

  • Research finds no relationship between the presence of a RTW law and state unemployment rates, per capita income or job growth.
  • When asked what influences their plant-location decision process, RTW is not an important criterion for small manufacturers.
  • Low-wage workers result in lower tax revenues, putting infrastructure needs and education and other publicly funded services at risk.
  • Lower wages also mean less spending by consumers, which stunts economic expansion.
  • States with the lowest percentage of workers in unions have relatively weak middle classes.

In addition to fewer, lower paying, less safe jobs and an erosion of infrastructure and decreased levels of public services, RTW robs our country of its democratic principles. Research shows that a weakened labor movement results in lower voter turnout and less participation by ordinary citizens in the political process. Maybe that is exactly what the RTW folks want; a means of keeping the political cronies of the richest in power so their interests will be forever served. Right to work is a carrot for a select few at the top of the economic food chain and a stick for everyone else.

Education News for 02-13-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Ohio’s future may require workers to go back to school (Journal-News)
  • Thousands of job openings are expected in southwest Ohio in the next five years in the fields of computer science, insurance and finance and accounting, and the labor needs will exceed the number of new college graduates with relevant degrees, according to a new study. Young people had an abysmal employment rate last year, and many are struggling to compete for jobs with older, out-of-work residents with more experience and education. Read More…

  • State school board districts new (Dispatch)
  • Gov. John Kasich’s administration has redrawn boundaries for the State Board of Education, lumping two central Ohio Democrats in the same district, a move that could increase the governor’s control of the panel. But a spokesman for the Republican governor rejected suggestions that the move was for political gain on the body, which establishes education policy for Ohio and picks the state superintendent. “This happens every 10 years,” said Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman, referring to the recent redrawing of Ohio’s legislative districts. Read More…

  • Most children aren't ready for kindergarten (Newark Advocate)
  • Today's kindergartners are expected to know what first-grade students 20 years ago knew. They need to write their name, know the alphabet, count to 10 and more. But half of students -- if not more -- enter kindergarten unprepared. School districts are searching for ways to help parents prepare their children for kindergarten. Students in Ashley Grieb and Stacey Cook's kindergarten classes chose their favorite birds Friday afternoon, moving them up an interactive white board. Read More…

  • Bullying law brings rule changes (Journal-News)
  • A new state law gives school districts the authority to suspend students who send a text or post something on the Internet that is deemed to be harassing, intimidating or bullying to another student. The Jessica Logan Act, H.B. 116, was signed into law in January and schools must update their anti-bullying policies by November to reflect the changes. The changes include new language addressing so-called cyber-bullying, in which harassment or intimidation is achieved using a cellphone, home computer or other electronic device. Read More…

  • Ohio could get STEM schools on agriculture (Dispatch)
  • While Gov. John Kasich stressed in his State of the State speech last week the need to match work-force training to Ohio’s available jobs, three Republican senators are already working on a plan to get students, particularly from urban and suburban areas, motivated to join the state’s largest industry. They stress that the $107billion-a-year industry is all-but-guaranteed to continue growing, with expanded job opportunities in high-tech fields that will require hands-on training along with a strong education in science, math and technology. Read More…

  • Education strong determinant with work success (Journal-News)
  • Most labor experts agree that education is the strongest determinant for success in the modern-day workplace, and new government job forecasts indicate more education is better for job seekers. Regardless of industry, the fastest growth is projected for occupations that require at least a master’s degree. Those professions will grow by 22 percent through 2020, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs requiring doctoral degrees will see the second-fastest rise, growing by about 19 percent over the next decade. Read More…

Local Issues

  • School pays kids to come to class (Enquirer)
  • WALNUT HILLS — Dohn Community High School senior Arneqka Lester, 16, is especially excited about coming to school this week. That’s because Friday is payday. This charter school of 170 students embarks on a new experiment this week – it’s paying students to come to class. Kids will get Visa gift cards – $25 for seniors, $10 for underclassmen – for showing up five days a week, being on time, not getting into trouble and being “productive,” said Principal Ramone Davenport. Productive means that they are working in class, it has nothing to do with grades or test scores. Read More…

  • Warnings a fallback if schools can’t fire (Dispatch)
  • Ten Columbus school-district employees are working under contracts that offer them a last chance to improve or be fired. Half signed the district’s “last-chance agreement” after they were accused of neglecting or abusing students. One high-school teacher was accused of sending a text message asking a student for pictures of his penis, according to district documents. An elementary-school teacher with a history of angry outbursts in class was accused of choking a student as he dragged him to the office to be disciplined. Read More…


  • Anti-bullying efforts start at home (Eagle-Gazette)
  • Bullying can take thousands of forms, and our local schools have their hands full trying to stop it. Although there's no way to completely eliminate it -- after all, kids always have been this way -- there are ways to diminish its effects. It starts with awareness, not only among school officials and parents, but among bullies themselves. If they know people are watching and that there are consequences for their actions, these kids will think twice about harassing other students. Read More…

  • From the legislature, a school-year idea worthy of detention (Plain Dealer)
  • No matter how the sponsors may try to tweak it -- and they are doing so now -- Ohio House Bill 191 is a bad bill proposed for bad reasons that have little to do with educating the state's youngsters. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland and Republican Rep. Bill Hayes of Licking County in central Ohio, aims to extend summer to help tourism and recreational businesses by making it possible for school to begin after Labor Day. Read More…

  • ‘922’ the movie lets us root for the underdog (Times Reporter)
  • We have long known about the 922 telephone prefix, which connects the communities of Uhrichsville and Dennison in the Claymont City School District. And now, after an in-depth news story published in Monday’s Times-Reporter, we know about a documentary that’s been filmed and is in the editing stage that reveals some incredible efforts and results coming from within the local school district. Read More…

Union-Management Collaboration Can Help Public Schools

For most of the past decade the policy debate over improving U.S. public education has centered on teacher quality. In this debate, teachers and their unions have often been seen as the problem, not part of the solution. Further, current discourse often assumes that conflicting interests between teacher unions and administration is inevitable. What is missing in the discussion, however, is a systems perspective on the problem of public school reform that looks at the way schools are organized, and the way decisions are made. Most public schools today continue to follow an organizational design better suited for 20th century mass production than educating students in the 21st century.

"Reforming Public School Systems Through Sustained Union-Management Collaboration," a paper by Saul A. Rubinstein and John E. McCarthy, offers an alternate path in this debate—a counterstory that looks at schools as systems. It focuses on examples of collaboration among stakeholders through the creation of labor-management partnerships among teachers’ unions, school administrators, and school boards. These partnerships improve and restructure public schools from the inside to enhance planning, decision-making, problem solving, and the ways teachers interact and schools are organized.

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Guest Post: A Comprehensive Union

A guest post by Robert Barkley, Jr., Retired Executive Director, Ohio Education Association, Author: Quality in Education: A Primer for Collaborative Visionary Educational Leaders and Leadership In Education: A Handbook for School Superintendents and Teacher Union Presidents, Worthington, Ohio –

As employee organizations, whether one prefers the term association or union, come under severe attack from many angles, it is time once again to reflect upon exactly what is our duty. Or, to put it in terms I discovered as I worked for several years with a coalition of management and labor, what would it mean to be a “comprehensive union.”

My work in that period of studying such collaboration led me to understand the parallel need for transforming our local associations/unions in tandem with the changes we seek in the school districts with which, and in which, we work.

Unions, like all organizations, go through life cycles. We are at a time in education where the pure trade unionist approach to representing education employees is at least understandable to most, and still appealing to many. Elsewhere this acceptance of even a traditional role for unions is fragile at best. There is a great deal of antipathy toward a union in any form, even among the union's own membership.

Against a backdrop of serious threats to public education as an institution, unions must walk a difficult line between the traditional expectations of many veteran school employees about what their union should be, internal union critics, and the changing expectations represented by many of those entering teaching today. In this climate, those who purport to represent school employees find themselves needing a more comprehensive perspective about what they offer.

Typically employee organizations seek, or should seek, to attend to three aspects of our members work: 1) the labor they engage in, 2) the contribution that labor makes to the community, and 3) the performance level attributed to those efforts.

Consistent with those three aspects a truly comprehensive union must engage in four distinct but interdependent functions. First, the traditional union role has not, probably should not, and cannot go away. At this point in its evolution, the comprehensive union needs to maintain its historic role. But what is that role? From conversations with many members, it seems to boil down to protecting members from the vicissitudes of the systems in which they work. More specifically it is protection from the consequences of out-dated, inadequate, and/or dysfunctional systems.

The second historical and essential role for our organizations is to assure that our members are appropriately rewarded for their labor, contributions, and performance. [Yes, there’s that word performance mixed in with setting compensation. It’s real and must be addressed both intelligently and fairly.]

This leads to the third role for a comprehensive union -- accepting responsibility, in collaboration with others, for the design and continuous improvement of the systems in which our members work. It's not a matter of giving up one for the other. It's a matter of accepting simultaneously the responsibility for protection, system redesign, and accountability.

For decades, designing the systems in which people work has been thought of as the purview of management. In fact, based upon the wording of many "management rights" clauses in bargained contracts, designing the systems and maintaining the quality of work has been essentially off-limits to unions. This was naïve from the beginning and certainly is today.

If one asks members or potential members if they would join for protection, many say yes. Ask them if they would join and support efforts to improve the system in ways that would reduce the need for protection, the response is usually some mix of three replies. One, they don't believe the need for protection would ever go away completely. Two, they never thought of the union as doing that sort of thing. And three, they like the idea, but they're worried that doing the second would compromise doing the first.

Taking on these dual challenges is further than many are ready to go. Yet there appears to be an even more attractive prospect for a transformation to comprehensive unionism. Once fundamental survival needs are met, the greatest service anyone can give workers is the fourth aspect of a comprehensive employee organization: an opportunity for its members to realize joy and satisfaction in their daily work.

I opened by suggesting that all organizations have life cycles. Moving from one established life cycle to the next is never easy nor is the road clear. We are often sustaining one cycle while designing the next. We find ourselves in that dilemma today -- torn between the continuing need for protection and the growing responsibility for improving the system. I have found this concept of the comprehensive union useful in conducting the reflection and dialogue necessary to grow and learn.