Longtime Los Angeles Teachers Union leader A.J. Duffy has changed his
mind. He’s fought against charter schools, but now he’s starting his
own; he’s protected tenure but now wants it easier to fire bad teachers,
even to limit the prolonged dismissal process to just 10 days.
The times they really are a-changin’ — something that is long overdue.
football season, a time for at least a moment’s reflection on America’s
working men and women, and those who are desperate to find work.
The bedrock foundation of the modern labor movement was the demand for “more” — and not just more money.
does labor want? We want more school houses and less jails. More books
and less guns. More learning and less vice. More leisure and less greed.
More justice and less revenge. We want more opportunities to cultivate
our better natures.”
That was the philosophy that Samuel Gompers
built the American Federation of Labor on more than a century ago, a
movement that reached its peak shortly after the end of World War II
when more than one in three workers was a member of a union.
it’s barely one in 10, one in 15 in the private sector, and public
sector unions have become a battleground over the cost of pensions and
salaries gained from the coziness between unions and the politicians
they help elect, relationships that could never exist between labor and
management in the business world.
From our city halls to
Sacramento, to Washington, the political cry is the same. “Jobs, jobs,
jobs,” our elected leaders of every stripe chant in unison, even as they
are in a stalemate over whether raising taxes for public works projects
or cutting taxes to free up capital for investment will do more to
create new jobs.
The truth is nearly $1 trillion in federal
stimulus money did not generate jobs as fast as they were disappearing,
in great part because government agencies swallowed up much of the money
to protect their jobs.
Even when they do invest in America and
job-creating businesses, they make a mess of it. Just last week, the
$527 million in government-backed loans to Solyndra, a solar power
company in Silicon Valley, went up in smoke when the firm ceased
operations and fired its 1,000 workers — a serious blow to our hopes for
a clean-energy industry that occurred because the company couldn’t
compete successfully against the Chinese.
For its part, corporate
America is flush with cash, but lacks confidence that putting its
capital to work will generate profits. The banks that brought down the
economy with their loose-lending practices and mortgage security schemes
are treating just about everyone as a credit risk.
It’s not like
the big corporations are over-taxed when 25 of the highest-paid chief
executive officers earned more last year personally than their companies
paid in federal income taxes, as the Institute for Policy Studies
reported last week. Of the 25 companies — including General Electric,
Ebay, Verizon, Boeing and Dow Chemical — 18 mocked our tax laws by using
offshore tax havens to hide their profits.