Abuse of power is a bad thing.
So, what should the response be when the good thing does the bad thing?
It’s Labor Day, for heaven’s sake, and we should all be having a picnic and giving thanks for the wonderful life that was created by the people who worked so hard to get unions for workers. The eight hour day, the 40 hour week – they weren’t gifts from the congress or the church. They did, in fact, cost people’s lives. Wresting power away from banks and business owners and getting people to change their assumptions about work was revolutionary.
Sadly, it’s a revolution were are losing. Unions are less present and more needed in almost every part of economic life.
It is right and good that unions should weigh in on elections. Everyone should weigh in on elections; it’s about choosing leaders for how we live.
But our unions are not our church or our congress, and to imply that they represent everyone in the community is simply false.
However many groups we have, be they the Friends of the Wetlands or the Boosters of the School or the Veterans of the War, they are groups that do not include everyone. They are there to help the Wetlands and the School and the Veterans.
The sticky situation we have with our school unions is that they keep insisting that they want what’s best for everyone, and in fact, they don’t. They can’t – it is not what they were created for or what they are designed to do. They are there to make sure that our teachers and school employees get what they feel they need.
They shouldn’t feel that they need to prevent the rest of the community – parents foremost – from participating in the schools.
The animosity of the employees union for the parents union is so ironic, it borders on hilarity. The idea that one union should be able to tell another union that is has no right to exist is absurd. (I did sit through the whole Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Radio and Television Artists dance that took years to resolve – if you want to see the union vs. union tango turn into an apache dance – roll credits on that one-) People have rights. Those rights need to be ensured. This is why we have unions, dammit.
The notion that parents should just mind their own business and not be active with their children’s schools is a complete contradiction of the pleas we hear every September – Get involved! Volunteer! Help us raise money!
The schism comes when “help us raise money” stops at the gate of deciding how that money will be spent.
The idea that parental labor creating school capital must be shut out of the process of spending that capital – why – that’s the very thing that unions stand against. Those who create the means must have a voice in the end. Unions exist to make sure that those who create capital are not cut out of how that capital is used.
So, we need to keep it open and honest. Everyone gets a seat at the table. Unions are good; all unions are good.
As we celebrate Labor Day, let’s hope for an easy labor. Whether you think that ‘many hands make light work’ or ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, remember we are all in the soup together. Collective bargaining and agreements are a foundation of how our culture works. It should work for teachers, employees, and parents.
If you think that being a parent does not qualify as a job – why do we call it ‘going into labor’ ?