How to Scratch the Surface
Well, probably most of you recall that the Царица, the Czar’s wonderful wife, is a public school teacher. Some may recall that she works in an inner-city, borderline impoverished district. All of you can predict that she is virulently anti-union and eyes Wisconsin’s teacher union solution with some jealousy.
And thus, she likes to bring to our attention whatever stereotypical union nonsense she can. Like this gem.
Her district was delighted to learn that Microsoftalbeit with marketing leverage in mindgenerously donated enough Microsoft Surface tablets to supply each teacher in the District with one. Indeed, these are new tablets, not the now-outdated one still found in most outlets.
Hooray! Make no bones about this: Microsoft allegedly wants to flush Apple and Google out of the public education market, and give thousands of students the ability to learn Office applications and no others. Whatever! The district is delighted to help out. Teachers can take them home, use them for personal use, or whatever they want to stress-test them in and out of the classroom; in exchange, Microsoft wants to hear about the experiences, good and bad, to make a better product. Win-win, really.
Of course, the Surface tablet is a bit different from a laptop or computer, so the school district arranged to give free, 15-minute training to the teachers: if you want a Surface, you need to attend the training because, understandably, there are some HR concerns with this venture: you may know how to turn the thing on, but you still can’t use it for illegal or immoral purposes, et cetera.
The first couple of sessions were wellthe Царица attended the first one and found the actual training was about 12 minutes long and worthwhile, and the HR piece only about 3 minutes of obvious reminders about proper use of school property. No big deal.
Or so an ordinary person would think; she was not surprised when, two days later, an email from the union blasted itself into everyone’s inboxes. DO NOT ATTEND the training. The union has JUST LEARNED that this 15-minute training program takes place after school, and teachers are not being compensated for their attendance. The union will aggressively pursue this miscarriage of justice!
No, the district replied in a calm voice, the teachers were indeed given a choice. Attend the training program, get a Surface for personal and school use. Opt out of the training, and you don’t get a Surface at all. Perfectly amenable quid pro quo. Training, the District announced, will continue as it remains optional.
All right, the union replied in a later email, if you pay each teacher $15 extra, they will attend the training program. A dollar an hour seems fair, the union agreed.
No, the District insisted, the fair thing is that the teachers are getting a $600 tablet for attending. That’s more like $40 an hour.
Oh, responded the union. Well, how about thisbecause the union is nothing if not successful in its generosityhow about the teachers attend if they want, and if they do, they get a Surface tablet? Nothing per hour?
Fine, the District agreed (to its original terms), and union was able to demonstrate to its members how much value they get for their dues: the union was able to give each teacher a new tablet for only 15 minutes of training.
So what was that about, the Царица wondered. Of course, she knew that the emails would continue, and continue they did. Yes, the union understood from the beginning what the deal was.
Butand here’s the kickerMicrosoft gave the District the tablets. It cost the District nothing. So the intent of the fracas was not to ensure the teachers get paid for attending the training, but to ensure the District gets hit with a bill for something on this deal.
It was a money grab, pure and simple. And the teachers decided they wanted some Surface tablets more than they wanted to hurt the taxpayers.
What a life.
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.