Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Now with More Cheesy Goodness

For working people, the New Democrats may as well be Republicans. They've moved so far to the center you can't tell where left ends and right begins. That's called "triangulation," they tell me.

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter was very much a pro-labor candidate. Yet he vetoed a bill that would have required workers in union shops who fail to join to pay an agency fee. Sure, they can earn the salaries the union negotiates, and enjoy whatever benefits they negotiate as well. They just don't have to pay for it. Oddly, Colorado is not one of those "right to work" states. But now Ritter is a true leader, able to stand up to organized labor, and Republicans there will just have to find someone else to complain about.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is talking about extending school days and school years. As a parent, I'm understandably excited about the possibility of my child being tested even closer to death than she is now. He's talking charter schools and merit pay. To his credit, he's also talking of free junior college and lower class size, but I've heard that sort of talk before.

In fact, I heard it from New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer, who was going to compel the mayor to follow the guidelines of the CFE lawsuit. He was going to demand reduced class sizes in New York City. When he got elected, though, he proposed a "menu" including class size, or longer days, or longer years. The legislation about class size that I've read about includes no real benchmarks, no requirements, and no penalties. Instead of your class of 34 kids, Klein can put you and another teacher in the same room with 67 kids. Now you have 33.5 kids, and class size is reduced.

The expert, of course, is UFT President Randi Weingarten, who's already negotiated a longer school day and year. Not only that, but she's fearlessly sent teachers permanently into the halls, into the lunchrooms, and into the bathrooms. She sent her teachers to teach a 6th class (which she claims is not a class, but which the chancellor calls a small class) Monday to Thursday. She's shredded their seniority rights and earned well-deserved accolades from anti-labor, anti-teacher voices from the New York Post editorial board to ex-US Secretary of Education Rod Paige.

So where are pro-labor people to look? Is it a sin to say you don't want to work days, nights, weekends, and summers (like me)? Is it heresy to say you don't want your kids to do that either?

Who stands up for working people in the good ol' US of A nowadays?
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