“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Strange Case of the Milwaukee Teachers

There's a game of chicken being played throughout the nation over teachers' salaries and jobs, according to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Last week, on Wednesday, the Journal reported on a situation unfolding in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Essentially, the facts are that the city's school board planned to terminate 428 teachers, in light of "declining tax collections and falling enrollment."

The article lists the average cash compensation for a city teacher at $56,000, but health and pension benefits are valued at more than $40,000 a year.

The Journal piece states,

"The current health plan costs taxpayers $26,844 per family, compared to the typical $14,500 cost for a private employer family plan. The plan does not require teachers to pay any premiums toward the cost of the health plan- a situation that is all but extinct in private employment. In the spring, the school board offered a new health plan that would reduce costs to $17,172 per family. The plan would have saved money by requiring co-pays."

The article reported that "when union officials were presented with the option, they chose to allow their members to be dismissed."

The teachers were laid off without even being allowed by their own union to vote on the offer from the Milwaukee school board.


Contends the Journal,

"The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association was immovable on benefits in part because it placed a bet on its Democratic friends in Washington rushing to the rescue. "The problem must be addressed with a national solution, a federal stimulus package that will restore educator positions," Pat Omar, the union's executive director said in June. The union's strategy in recent weeks has been to stage rallies demanding a federal bailout, and it used hundreds of school kids at those rallies as political props."

A the article correctly concludes,

"It is hardly sensible to force taxpayers in Mississippi, Colorado, New Hampshire and elsewhere to step in and save the union's bacon. A federal bailout only further entrenches bad policies- especially unaffordable benefit packages- that led to the school funding crisis in the first place and leave every child behind."

What amazes me is that the Milwaukee teacher's union's executives really believe nobody will notice that they are playing a shell game. After all, federal bailouts are paid by taxpayers. That means, even if less proportionally, Wisconsin taxpayers, too. Plus, what about them paying for teacher bailouts in 49 other states?

Do these union officials really believe everyone else is that gullible? Maybe because they managed to secure these pie-in-the-sky benefits packages in the first place, they still believe in that Tooth Fairy delivering now-unaffordable benefit promises.

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