Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Putting Students First by Firing 251 People Who Help Them

That's what they're planning to do in Yonkers. They're having a budget crunch, and this is how they're choosing to deal with it. It's important to note that this comes after years of Governor Cuomo's edict that school budgets shall not be raised over 2% except under extraordinary circumstance.

Any time they want to go over 2%, they need to get the budget passed by a super majority. Not precisely democracy. if you ask me. Of course, Governor Andrew Cuomo never does.

Why, exactly, does Yonkers have this issue?

In the case of both the school and municipal budgets, the deficits are primarily due to rising employee wages, benefits and health care.

How inconvenient, to have to compensate people for their work. What a burden it is to offer health care to people who work for the government. Why are these people so greedy? Why do they demand enough money to be able to have decent places to live? Over at Walmart, they pay people diddly-squat, and teach them how to apply for food stamps and other government aid? Why can't the government do that too? Wouldn't it save money?

Well actually, no it would not. Though it's federal rather than local, government pays for those benefits too. And with Trump in charge, all those benefits have targets on their backs. Why can't people just pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Hey, do you even know what a bootstrap is? And if you did, do you think pulling one would help you make a living? What if you pulled both of them? Me, I'm not seeing it.

So how can we solve this issue? Why don't we ask the community to break the 2% cap, and push for a super majority vote? Wouldn't that be better than depriving the children, the ones we put first, of people whose job it is to support them in school?

On Thursday, Mayor Mike Spano said he wouldn't support breaking the state tax cap unless unions agree to wage or benefits concessions.

"I wouldn't entertain one without the other," Spano said.

So evidently,  if public employees agree to do more work for less pay, the Mayor will ask for more money to support them. If I were Mayor Spano, I'd call in E4E and get them to give pizza parties, explaining to employees that giving more work for less pay is the way we put children first. By telling the public how worthless we are, and how little we think of ourselves, we'll show that we put the children's needs before our own. Except for our own children, the ones we won't be able to feed or clothe, but hey, you can't have everything.

On the other hand, if we're putting children first, do we want to bring them up in a system where they can't make a living? Do we want teaching to become a job that requires two or three other jobs just to make ends meet? That's what it is in Oklahoma and West Virginia, and we've all seen how that's working out. Do we want to move toward wildcat statewide teacher strikes in NY State?

Judging by Mike Spano's words, I'd have to say yes. On the other hand, union leaders have a different vision:

"Stop thinking that you're going to do this on labor's back," said Louis Picani, the Teamsters Local 456 president at a City Council public hearing Tuesday. "It's not going to happen."

Picani warned that city residents would see a repeat of a 2010 budget crisis and layoffs that led to uncollected garbage on the streets.

Frank Marino, vice-president of the Yonkers Uniform Fire Officers Association, said laying off public workers to close deficits will lead to an unsafe, unsanitary and poorly educated city.

"Taking away services that people rely upon is wrong," Marino said at Tuesday's City Council budget hearing. "Blaming fairly negotiated contracts that included many concessions for financial mismanagement is wrong

You probably wouldn't be hearing that if you lived in Wisconsin, or one of the other right-to-work states. In Wisconsin, for example, they've not only hobbled union, but they've also killed collective bargaining (except for police, because someone has to protect the governor's mansion when the public comes bearing torches and pitchforks).

Were Janus to be successful, you wouldn't be hearing it anywhere. Make no mistake, if the Koch Brothers succeed in hobbling us by allowing freeloaders, they will certainly target collective bargaining. They'd very much like to erase the last century or two and move us back to feudalism. Despite Cuomo's recent happy talk and ostensible support, his 2% cap directly contributes to this cause.

There's an apocryphal Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." These are the interesting times. The Koch Brothers will flood the airwaves with ads saying keep your money, don't give it to that stupid union. That way you'll have a little money in the short run. In the long run, of course, there will be far fewer people like me willing to go to the wall for you and defend your rights.

Blanche DuBois always depended on the kindness of strangers. Personally, I'd rather depend on a hundred thousand educators who stand with me. Otherwise, we're at the mercy of hacks like Mayor Mike Spano.
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