*Out on the grounds hundreds of educators in red t-shirts milled about, chanting and pumping signs up and down in the air.
A half-smile froze on a legislator’s face. Demanding, he thought. Always demanding more. He didn’t really care what they were up to, or how their demands affected the students in his state. As long as they were supporting his campaign, he’d vote for whatever they wished.
Down the hall, another legislator gazed out on the scene. A small fraction of the educators dressed in red were vocal; the others showing support by being present. Could they explain why their union, after 40 years of crying out for higher pay and lower class sizes hadn’t appeared to achieve either, he wondered?
“Red for Ed,” they say over and over. Two-thirds of them don’t know how much they are paying in union dues this year. Two-thirds of them are unaware that most of their dues get sent to the state and national union affiliate. No one in their union has ever explained to them how much bargaining actually costs. . .Or that the state and national affiliates cannot legally sit at the bargaining table.
Bargaining isn’t on their minds today, the legislators muse. How odd they show their support of the union so vigorously in light of the union-proposed bill to strap school districts with another payroll tax, and the state with a gross-receipts tax. They are out there supporting the union demand for more funding while the union is in here stripping the dollars away from taxpayers and school districts. Is this irony?
We are making a difference today, the educators think. Those legislators won’t be able to ignore us now! They move about, flashing smiles, proud in their red t-shirts. A tiny, tiny portion of them – the leaders – know very well what the inside of the legislators’ offices look like. They know very well the union is already well-connected inside the capitol.
Oh my, a third legislator thinks as she scans the crowd. So many of these teachers have no idea what is really going on here. They have no idea it’s their union that is blocking reforms that would protect their retirement investments. They have no idea the union strapped districts with a one-size-fits-all health insurance provider that prevents districts from searching the open market for less costly care. Lower class sizes? More pay? The union has its members thinking it is someone else’s fault that finances are tight. The legislator’s head sank. Her heart constricted. Who will rescue these educators?
*A fictitious account of a possible occurrence.