Monday, January 01, 2018

The Right to Freeload

 Like everyone, I'm all excited that I get to continue to deduct 250 bucks for school supplies. Boy, those GOP politicians may not be the bottom-feeding slugs everyone seems to think they are. On the other hand, we can't deduct union dues anymore, and at $1400 a year, that wipes out what I save from deducting school supplies several times over.

Make no mistake, Janus is all about the right to freeload, a right the GOP seems to think was carried down from Mt. Sinai along with the Ten Commandments. Even now, I have no respect whatsoever for anyone who wants to benefit from my paying union dues while he or she keeps the money and buys a new Whatever at Walmart.

Janus means collective bargaining is a political act, and if I believe in more work for less pay, I don't need no stinking unions gumming up the works. Of course I'll take whatever the union negotiates. Maybe I'll donate it to the More Work for Less Pay Institute, but more likely I'll buy a big screen TV, or a new iPhone, or something else made by veritable slave labor in China, which I evidently not only support, but also wish I were part of.

By this logic, I shouldn't have to pay taxes. I'm hard pressed to think of anything Donald Trump does that I support. I don't support his playing golf every weekend on my dime. I don't support his profiting from it. I don't support the tax bill. I don't support making it harder for defrauded students to have loans forgiven. I don't support the wall. I don't support coal companies pouring poison into streams. I don't support the destruction of labor union.  I could go on.

But Trump and the GOP are about pulling the beating heart out of things Trump doesn't support, like working Americans. I mean, as long as you're working to take millions of people off of health care, why not also make it difficult to impossible for them to organize in jobs that actually may provide it? Why not take away the dues deduction so as to further discourage even more people?

And if that isn't perplexing enough, I don't really support my union leadership either. They're profoundly undemocratic. They've rigged the elections so high schools get no voice in the AdCom that makes all the big decisions in the union. Even before they did that, high schools had no voice or vote in NYSUT or AFT. We now continue that grand tradition with no voice or vote in NEA either. It's a great honor to pay the same rate as everyone else, though.

Theoretically, the Delegate Assembly is the highest body, the Executive Board supports the DA, and AdCom supports the Executive Board. In our system, though, most voting members of the DA have signed a loyalty oath to support AdCom rather than rank and file.  The very first question I heard when our current substandard contract was being sold at the DA was, "Gee, Mike, what happens if we don't approve this contract?"

You see, if the contract were not such a stinker, there'd be no need to even ask such a question. The delegate I was with, a soft-spoken young woman, turned to me and said, "Arthur, an elementary school student could see how unfair this is." And there was the answer, a blatant appeal to fear, that we'll have to get in line behind 160 other unions and that retro was not a God-given right. Of course, as Howard Schoor reminds the Executive Board at meetings, it isn't actually retro. That's because anyone who resigned, was fired, or died (!) doesn't get the money they earned back in 2010. Too bad for them. After all, all they did was work for it.

And now leadership comes to me and demands that I put together a Janus committee, to get people to pay dues. Meanwhile, I'm an elected member of the UFT Executive Board, and when I remind them of the fact they vote as a bloc and shut us out, they call a point of order and don't even let me speak.

I will form a committee. But we will be discussing more than just Janus.
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