There was a negotiating session Thursday afternoon between the Douglas County school administration and the American Federation of Teachers Union.
It was not a school board meeting. Rather, it was a formal negotiation open to the public.
The meeting was orderly and cordial on all sides. Rumor had it that unions were going to bus in hundreds of supporters from outside the district to disrupt proceedings. Warned about an potential large turnout, the meeting was moved to the gym of the Douglas County High School in Castle Rock. There were about a half dozen of so police present. In the end, nothing materialized.
The local union members showed up in purple T-shirts and collected themselves at the north building for a march (or walk) together to the gym in the south building. They arrived relatively close to start time and about forty were held outside the capacity filled auditorium. I've noticed this propensity for socialists to gather together in groups and wait to be led by a leader. I shouldn't be surprised. Their T-shirts were emblazoned on the front with "I make a difference every day." Indeed they do, but I couldn't help wondering what the nature of that difference was.
A couple of things in the negotiations stood out to me. The first was the opening series of questions by a high school journalism teacher on the union side directed at the treasurer for the school district. He grilled her about capital expenditures, especially about why they were so high. She explained that some, at least, of the monies were due to reclassification of funds caused by the way the state mandates reporting. I wondered why he was so interested in the details. I couldn't help wondering: was he looking for piggy banks to raid?
The second impression was about teacher pay. A young woman on the union side was very interested in the pay levels of new hires. Douglas County is moving toward market-based pay and pay for performance. She wanted to ensure that new hires would not get more than existing teachers. A teacher sitting next to me nodded approvingly at that question.
Playing out right in front of me was the true nature of unionism and socialism: greed and envy. One definition of socialism is institutionalized envy. Surely that was the case here as the union sought to protect the interests of the existing union members against the new hires. Their support for "career ladders" would, no doubt, start the new hires right at the bottom regardless of prior teaching experience. Further, there appeared to be some "suspended" monies not yet paid out and the union wanted to ensure that it was paid out evenly across the board.
The truth is that decent working conditions and other justifications for unionism in America have long been written into law. Today unions kill creativity and innovation, encourage conformity, and reward mediocrity.
What kind of a difference are union teachers making in our children's lives every day?