Category Archives: Unions

Alabama Republicans Hit A New Low

The Republicans in Alabama are making news again and not in a good way. There are 2 Tea Party candidates running against Jo Bonner (R-AL), Pete Riehm and Dean Young, promising that if they are elected they will impeach President Obama. The crowd present for the debate responded to this with roaring cheer.  

According to the Mobile Press-Register,  

“First, I would cut off his funding. If that didn’t work, I would introduce a resolution describing what he’s done wrong. The last resort, which I am willing to take, would be to impeach him,” Young explained further. Riehm was equally unapologetic, saying, “failure to recognize wrong-doing is moral dereliction and, when you have the authority, failure to uphold the law is accessory to the crime.” Among President Obama’s crimes, argues Riehm, is his failure to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and failure to enforce federal laws on immigration and elections.  

Bonner responded to this saying impeachment “is a serious charge, and you better have good reasons before making it.” Conservative columnist, Quin Hillyer, the moderator said the idea was “pure demagoguery.” 

If that was not enough, Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill used the bible to justify not raising salaries for teachers. At a prayer breakfast he stated that the bible says increasing teacher salaries would only lead to less-qualified teachers. That doubling teachers’ salaries (starting salary for Alabama teachers begins at $36,144) would not help education. In fact, keeping teacher pay low is a “biblical principle“: 

If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach.   “To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK? 

“And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity. 

“If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.” 

ThinkProgress reported:

McGill found justification in the Bible for not increasing teacher pay, but he evidently found nothing in scripture preventing him from approving a 67 percent pay increase for legislators in 2007, which increased annual salaries for the part-time legislators from $30,710 to $49,500. He said that the higher pay helped to stop corruption. 

A 2011 report showed that while Alabama teachers have the highest starting salaries in the nation, the state lags far behind the national average for teacher pay. Currently, a part-time legislator in Alabama is making more than a full-time teacher with a Master’s degree and 15 years of experience. 

GOP’s Defunding of Education Having Major Consequences

Since Republicans major wins in 2010 handing them full control in numerous states, they have been slashing education funding at a rapid rate while at the same time cutting corporate tax rates. This is now having very detrimental effects.

In Michigan they have some of the highest class sizes in the country, and they are now in the news for hazards cited by the Detroit Fire Department for overcrowding. However, before I go into the recent news made in Michigan, I want to share with you a few examples of just how drastic these education cuts have been (click on states name for link to full articles).  

North Carolina   

Instead of continuing the temporary, three-quarters-of-a-cent sales tax that Perdue has used to pay teachers’ salaries and support school programs since the state budget deficit emerged, Republicans refused to extend the tax and cut $800 million out of education funding.  

Under the soon-to-be-passed Republican budget, the education system as a whole would lose 13,000 jobs, nearly 70 percent of those from public schools. Other cuts include $13.3 million from dropout prevention programs, $92.2 million from textbooks, $42 million from instructional supplies and even more funding from teacher training, student testing and support programs. 

Indiana  

Many Northwest Indiana schools would receive less state funding over the next two years under a Republican budget plan expected to be approved by a House committee Friday.  

The proposed budget continues Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ $300 million annual education funding cut through 2013, eliminates small-school and restoration grants and takes the so-called “deghoster” — three years of additional payments to schools that lose students — out of the school funding formula. 

Gary Community School Corp. is the biggest loser among region schools under the plan. State funding for Gary schools will drop from $94.2 million this year to $79.2 million in 2012 and $74.3 million in 2013. 

Other school corporations facing significant 2012 cuts include Whiting, 5.9 percent; Lake Ridge, 4.3 percent; North Newton, 3.1 percent; South Newton, 3 percent; East Chicago, 2.8 percent; Munster, 2.5 percent; Porter Township, 2.4 percent; Hammond, 2.2 percent; and Boone Township, 2.1 percent. 

Pennsylvania  

State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today plans to vote against the House Republican majority’s budget. 

“Like Governor Corbett’s proposed budget, the House Republican budget still cuts funding drastically for K-12 and higher education while failing to use a combined current and projected $1 billion in additional state revenue to lessen deep cuts in education, health care and other vital programs,” Roebuck said. 

Roebuck said the state has received $500 million in additional revenue so far this budget year and that figure can be projected forward into next year’s revenue base, yielding the $1 billion figure. 

“I am deeply concerned about what the Corbett $298 million cut in state funding for Philadelphia public schools would mean for local students and homeowners’ property taxes. The House Republican budget proposal is nearly as bad – it would cut $276 million, or 21.8 percent, from current state funding levels for Philadelphia public schools. That is not a ‘restoration’ – that is still a massive cut,” Roebuck said.  

Roebuck said the House Republican budget cuts $976 million in K-12 education funding, including block grants, education assistance, charter school reimbursement and school improvement grants – not just the one line item labeled basic education funding. 

Wisconsin  

Even though Walker isn’t ordering immediate layoffs, his budget will put tremendous pressure on schools and local governments, which will be asked to shoulder huge cuts without raising property taxes to make up the difference. 

Walker’s budget includes a nearly 9 percent cut in aid to schools, which would amount to a reduction of nearly $900 million. The governor also proposed requiring school districts to reduce their property tax authority by an average of $550 per pupil.   

Michigan’s massive class sizes and overcrowding  

Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder, center, House Speaker Andy Dillon, left, and former Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus as senior adviser to the Governor at University of Michigan's.

James Chambers of The Detroit News reported the Detroit Fire Department has cited schools for over crowding creating a fire hazard.  

Some of the worst victims of the economic crisis have been our nation’s schools. As state coffers emptied, declining revenues forced schools to lay off hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country and pack kids into under-staffed buildings. 

Now, the Detroit Fire Marshall’s Office has issued a citation at the city’s Nolan Elementary School after finding so many children in over-crowded classrooms that it was become a public safety hazard:  Lt. Gerod Funderburg of the Detroit Fire Department said the fire marshal’s office issued a citation at Nolan Elementary School, 1150 Lantz.   

“They went out today and issued a ticket for overcrowding,” Funderburg said. […] The Detroit News reported last week that excessive class sizes at some DPS schools were still a problem six weeks into the school year.   

Specifically, The Detroit News reported that Nolan had 55 kindergarteners in one class, while a DPS high school had 72 students in a science course.  What kind of education do you think you get with 72 students in your class? Remember how everyone makes fun of big lecture hall classes in college? That’s what is happening to our schools.

Hey GOP – Where Are The Jobs?

We all know the platform the Republican party ran on in 2010, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and they were very successful with big wins at both the federal and state level. Well, it has been 8 months, and there isn’t much to show for it. This Congress, the 112th Congress, is on track to become the least productive Congress in history. The things that they have managed to get through (excluding the naming of post offices and ending Medicare) have been quite opposite of what they ran on. 

Keep in mind two facts. One, not one bill has been brought up in Congress that would create jobs. Secondly, there are several bills (that have bipartisan support) waiting to be brought up that would create jobs but Boehner has yet to do so. The Republicans have actually been successful in losing jobs, not creating them. 

For instance, the debt ceiling crisis debacle, which was a pure creation by the GOP. In a recent interview with ABC, Speaker Boehner was asked about the results of the debt ceiling deal and his response was this: “When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy,” So, what are the results going to be that he forced through his Congress.  

Also, the partial shutdown of the FAA by the GOP. The reason for this shutdown: The short-term funding bill passed by the House cuts money for rural airports, including several that lie in states with Democratic senators. Meanwhile, the long-term funding bill passed by the House would make it harder for air and rail workers to unionize. This is also turning out to be a job loser as well. 

Number of federal workers out of work: 4000 

Number of construction workers out of work: 70,000+ 

“The House Republicans’ insistence on attaching anti-worker provisions to an aviation bill has brought about a terrible stalemate that is hurting the economy,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said in a statement. “From day 1, House GOP leaders admitted openly — almost proudly — that they were doing this to gain ‘leverage’ toward a larger goal — undermining worker rights.” 

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but It does make you wonder if Republicans are intentionally crashing our economy for their political and financial benefit. Maybe there is something to that “Starve the Beast” strategy of theirs.

>GOP Wants to Break Unions

>Unions are the last line of defense for public and private workers. Membership numbers have dwindled over the years but their influence in our politics have not. They protect employees from abuse by corporations and government. If GOP get their way, America’s working class will be at the mercy of their employers and/or government.

The reason is clear, unions by in large support the Democratic party. If they are busted and taken out of our political system, then corporations will run our government unchecked. President Harold A. Schaitberger of the International Association of Fire Fighters told The Hill.

“This is all happening in a very coordinated way to kill off our unions and to deny workers the opportunity to have some say in their careers. They are trying to take us down.”

This is all being done because of a fiscal crisis caused by Wall Street and corporations and the need to balance state budgets. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s response to actions taken in Wisconsin.

“This isn’t about balancing the budget. This is about making political choices. This is about hurting workers. This is about taking away their rights.”