‘More Energetic and Lower-Paid’ Teachers Get Thrown Under the Bus

California commentator Steven Greenhut (left): “Because of the ‘Last in, first out’ system that teacher unions ardently defend, . . . layoffs are based on seniority. Can you imagine a similar situation at your business? If you faced a cash shortfall, would you then lay off workers without regard to productivity or value?” Image: Scott Duncan/capitolweekly.net

Today more than 30 states have laws on the books empowering government union bosses to speak for all public servants who choose not to join their organizations as well as those who do in discussions with the employer regarding pay, benefits, and work rules.

Big Labor insists that corralling workers who don’t belong to a union, and don’t want to, under union monopoly bargaining is “for their own good.” But this is often obviously untrue, as a recent commentary for the Orange County (Calif.) Register by Steven Greenhut of the R Street Institute illustrates. (Use the link below to read the entire op-ed.)

Greenhut reports that the school board of the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) in Orange County recently voted, 4-1, to send out pinks slips to 287 teachers and other education employees warning them that they may potentially be laid off at the end of the academic year.

The SAUSD is short of funds in part because its enrollment is falling. Nevertheless, the district undoubtedly could have sent out far fewer pink slips, and perhaps none at all, had it not acquiesced in 2015 to union bosses’ demands for a salary increase that now costs taxpayer $32 million annually.

Moreover, the potential harm to schoolchildren and their parents resulting from layoffs is greatly magnified because, under contract terms upon which union kingpins have always insisted, they must adhere to “Last in, first out” (LIFO) rules.  That is, the teachers with the least seniority will get laid off first, even if their job performance is outstanding and/or they hold college degrees in subject areas which an insufficient number of district employees are qualified to teach.

In short, unless Big Labor California Gov. Jerry Brown finds extra state tax dollars to divert to Santa Ana, union bosses are prepared, in Greenhut’s words, “to throw . . . younger, more energetic and lower-paid” teachers “under the bus.”

Greenhut adds: “Older teachers will keep their raises, while young ones get laid off first. It’s no secret that unions put the interests of longtime workers above newbies.”

The scenario now unfolding in Santa Ana occurs countless times in state after state in the late winter and spring of every year in unionized K-12 school districts with budget problems due to declining enrollments and/or other reasons.

And in California and roughly a dozen-and-a-half other states that authorize compulsory union dues and fees in the government sector, educators who have less job security as a consequence of union monopoly bargaining actually have to bankroll the Big Labor bosses who block all attempts to roll back LIFO rules.

Largely because of government union chiefs’ monopoly-bargaining and forced-dues privileges, the California public education system has over the course of the past 40 years become an extraordinarily expensive shambles. Elimination of these special privileges is essential for meaningful reform of the system

Pink slips’ evidence of a dysfunctional system