Maybe Walker was Right (but for the wrong reasons)

Jun 14 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: Crackpot Theories to save the world

Last week there was a recall election in Wisconsin. A lot of my friends from the area have been fighting to get to get Governor Walker recalled for the past year or so. One of the tipping points that made a lot of people really dislike him was that he eliminated collective bargaining for government employees. i.e. he dissolved the teachers’ union.

Recently, I’ve been thinking. Teachers’ unions shouldn’t be necessary.

Unions are intended to shift the power in the relationship away from the employer and to the employee. In a lot of situations, this rebalancing isn’t needed. For example, executives in a corporation get to pretty much make the rules, so they don’t need help cutting themselves a decent deal. High-skill jobs are difficult and expensive to replace, so they can bargain from a position of relative power. If you try to underpay your engineers, they’ll just quit, forcing you to spend months of time training new ones in the specifics of your system. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doctor making minimum wage except for volunteer or humanitarian work.

The only professions that should need the aid of unions are ones that are low skill. Laying bricks may be physically difficult, but it doesn’t exactly require a PhD. That skill can be trained up in a few weeks most. This means that if employees start demanding better treatment or pay, they can simply be fired and replaced by someone cheaper. Thus, they have a union. Most of the workers in the field cooperate to ensure that none of them undermines the rest of them.

So why do teachers need a union? It’s an important and high-skill job. They should have a position of bargaining power. Teachers shouldn’t be easy to replace. It should be considered a respected and highly-skilled profession. What is wrong with our education system that teachers are ending up the under-powered ones in an employer/employee relationship?

I don’t have any good solutions to this issue. Heck, it’s distinctly possible that I’m completely misunderstanding the situation. I certainly didn’t do any research! But it’s too late now! I wrote it. You read it. You can’t unread it!

good thoughts - I agree across the board. I observed when my wife worked as a teacher's assistant that your employment as a teacher depended more on politics and interpersonal preference than it did your skill level. That was only representative of Dubuque schools at a particular point in time but I believe it could be proven (if it hasn't already) that there are serious, serious issues with out school systems & it begins with parents not caring enough to hold the school leadership accountable. The problem seems insurmountable at this point. My first reaction is to seek out alternative education for my kids I suppose.

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