The Царица, whom by now all of you know is a public school teacher in a very dicey suburb outside Chicago, has quietly and with much dignity absorbed the slings and arrows of her union for well over a decade. Her own estimates, which match quite well with other statistics the Czar has compiled for other areas, show that only about 20% of the teachers in her district actually support the union. In other words, she states, if the union agrees to hold a meeting, out of 100 teachers, only about 18-20 show upand as you already suspect, it is always the same 18-20 individuals.
Her schools local union rep is an ostensibly nice individual, and she and the Царица have been amiable acquaintances for many years. But, she told me, She is union first, family second. If it came down to a choice between administering first aid to her own child or filling out a grievance against the district, she theorized, the union rep would point out a grievance takes only a minute.
As you know, nationally, public sector unions have taken a massive PR bashing, and the unions have not exactly responded in a way that would recapture the public endearment. In the last few months, things have gotten worse, and the typical public sector union response is to confuse defense and offense and roll it into one terrible creature. Everything, says the Царица, is now an urgent union issue and an excuse to play hardball.
Here is a particularly annoying example. In order to receive federal dollars, the schools offer a breakfast and lunch program. The breakfast program allows kids to enter the school anytime after 8:30am and grab some food, which they are allowed to eat only in their classrooms. As a result, the Feds have requested the District to have the teachers in their rooms no later than 8:30am to supervise the children.
In other words, if you are a classroom teacher, you must be in your room by 8:30am, whether or not any of your students participate, becausefrom day to dayyou never know which kids will eat breakfast or not. Admittedly, seeing a student sitting in an empty classroom by herself, eating breakfast, is dangerous. And if the teacher locks the door, the student winds up eating in the hallwaywhich annoys the Feds because this will discourage potentially hungry students from participating in the program.
The Union does not like this one bit. You cannot order teachers to be in school at 8:30am, even if this time is so stipulated in their contracts. Teachers are welcome to arrive at any time, including 8:30am, but requiring them to be in their rooms by that time means they must arrive even earlier in order to punch in their time card, get their mail and coffee, etc.
The Царица points out that about 80% of the teachers arrive around 7:30am, set up their day, do their email, and so on, and are pretty much ready to go by 8:00am. Its only the same 18-20% who walk through the door at 8:30am, punch in, and then get ready for the first bell at 8:50am. So guess who is complaining? Right.
The Union rep responded with a masterful strategy: the local has required that members sit in their cars until about 8:29 and some odd seconds, and then flood the tiny front office all at once, every day, to badge in and get their mail. The lines, the chaos, the confusionall of this should delay teachers getting to their rooms until about 8:49! Hah!
The Царица was one of the first to object. First, she says, parking conditions are so terrible and the neighborhood so dangerous that teachers try to get to school very early to get close, safe parking. As a result, most teachers simply arrive around 7:30. Then, there is email time, getting photocopies done, doing the days lesson plans, reviewing substitute assignments (in case a teacher calls in, another teacher can cover if he or she is free), and a host of other activities to be done. This cannot be compressed into one minute. So, in effect, she argued, the union reps plan would wind up hurting the teachers more, as well as result in hungry kids and increased federal scrutiny. And certainly the union doesnt want to bite the federal hand that feeds them.
The union responded, suggesting that teachers wait in their cars until the 8:29 time, and simply cut back on email to parents, and try to get the other work done after school the day before. This, of course, means that teachers would need to stay later without pay, which none of them will do. The Царица was at a loss to explain this lunacy. Its bad enough that they dont give a $#!+ about the kids, but now they want to punish the teachers worse than they would be puinishing the district.
Over the weekend, a letter was emailed out from the new union head, admitting that the plan was not amenable to members. But not to worry! The next time, we will get the district even worse! The tone of the letter was openly plotting. Following this were a flurry of emailsfrom the same 20% of teacherssupporting this idea, with language so vile and hateful that the Царица announced last night: I want to quit the union.
Now, the Царица is a right-wing hard-line conservative, and has long objected to the union as bad for the kids, bad for education, and staffed with thick-headed clods who would, as we know, prefer to fill out a union grievance rather than assist an injured kid. But the importance of her statement is based on her strong compass: the union is now morally criminal to her, and she will actively find ways to work against it.
The teachers union has its best weapon pointed right at its own head.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.